Kenya (AP) — The smell of old socks can help fight malaria by
attracting mosquitoes to a trap outdoors, scientists have found, and on
Wednesday donors announced new funding to help develop the device.
scented with the odor of human feet attracted four times as many
mosquitoes as a human volunteer, said Dr. Fredros Okumu, the head of the
research project at Tanzania’s Ifakara Health Institute. Mosquitoes who
fly into the trap are then poisoned.
nets and indoor spraying have already substantially reduced the number
of fatal malaria cases, but so far scientists have not come up with a
good way to help combat mosquitoes outdoors.
the global infection rate of malaria is going down, there are still
more than 220 million new cases of malaria each year. The U.N. says
almost 800,000 of those people die. Most of them are children in Africa.
global goal of eradication of malaria will not be possible without new
technologies,” said Okumu, who has been ill with the disease himself
scientist Dr. Bart Knols first discovered mosquitoes were attracted to
foot odor by standing in a dark room naked and examining where he was
bitten, said Okumu. But over the following 15 years, researchers
struggled to put the knowledge to use.
has been working on his project to trap mosquitoes for two years. He
mixed eight chemical compounds to find the perfect odor, and then
experimented with poisons to find one that could kill up to 95 percent
Okumu, who received an initial grant of $100,000 to help his research
two years ago, has been awarded an additional $775,000 by the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada to create an
affordable mosquito trap that could be used outside homes.
said more research was needed to find the right place to put the traps.
Too close would attract mosquitoes near the humans and expose them to
greater risk of bites, but the devices would be ineffective if too far
current traps are expensive prototypes but Okumu hopes to produce
affordable traps that can be sold for between $4 and $27 each.
African innovation for an African problem being developed in Africa,”
said Dr. Peter A. Singer, the head of Grand Challenges Canada. “It’s
bold, it’s innovative and it has the potential for big impact … who
would have thought that a lifesaving technology was lurking in your
SOURCE: The Associated Press