Is it true that a small patch can prevent mosquitoes from attacking humans, thus preventing the spread of disease in developing countries?
UNCONFIRMED: Likely, but more research needs to be done
The world hates mosquitoes — nothing messes up a picnic or a relaxing night on the beach quite like the little bloodsuckers. In the developing world, mosquitoes are more than simply a nuisance: Their bites help spread malaria, a disease that kills at least 600,000 people every year in countries in Africa, Asia and South America.
But there appears to be a groundbreaking solution to repelling mosquitoes that’s far more effective than a can of spray. The New York Daily News and io9 report that the Kite Patch, a sticker-like rectangle that fits in the palm of your hand and can be applied to a piece of clothing, keeps mosquitoes away from people and can potentially save lives.
The Kite Team, developers of the patch, is seeking funding for the project through crowd-funding site indiegogo.com. As of July 30, it raised $321,321 — well in excess of its $75,000 goal.
How it works
As the video shows, the Kite Patch is a spatial repellant that "blocks" mosquitoes from detecting the carbon dioxide that all of us emit. They can apparently detect this carbon dioxide from 100 yards away, which allows them to track down humans to have as a meal.
Can this patch make you invisible to mosquitoes?
Placing the small patch anywhere on your clothing will essentially make you invisible to mosquitoes for up to two days. The Kite Patch has the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the National Institutes of Health, which supported Olfactor Laboratories in the early research of the patch.
Better than the alternative
One of the Kite Patch’s biggest draws is that its main ingredients are nontoxic and considered safe for use by pregnant women and children old enough not to swallow the patch.Because mosquitoes are often targeted with poisonous insecticides, conventional methods can be harmful to humans and the environment.
"Whenever you use chemicals, you always have to be cautious," Dr. Adriana Costero-Saint Denis, vector biology program officer for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Parasitology and International Programs Branch, told MSN News. "Chemicals usually affect neurotransmitters in the insects, but we also have neurotransmitters, and the mosquitoes can also develop a resistance to pesticides. The important part of this patch is that they are using chemicals that have already been determined safe for humans."
Can it save lives?
The Kite Team plans a field trial of the patch in Uganda once it reaches its $75,000 fundraising goal, the success of which will likely determine if the product will reach the mass market.
Denis, who managed the NIAID’s grants during early research on the patch, said that while the Kite Patch has been successful in lab testing, its effectiveness as a product for mass use and distribution is as yet untested.
"If it's as successful in the field as it has been in the lab, the next consideration is the cost," said Denis. "In developing countries, they may not have enough funding, and they are always seeking donors to deal with mosquitoes."
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