A solar-powered, human-scented mosquito trap can reduce mosquito prevalence by 70% and malaria infections by 30%, according to a study carried out by researchers from Switzerland, the Netherlands and Kenya.
The trap used in the study, published in the journal The Lancet on Tuesday, attracts mosquitoes through a scent imitating human skin. The insects are then sucked into the trap by a solar-powered fan.
Four researchers from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) were involved in the study, the first of its kind to show a positive health effect of mosquito traps.
The field trial was carried out on the Kenyan island of Rusinga; around 4,500 households were equipped with the traps. The results show a 70% decline in population of the Anopheles mosquito on the islands as well as a 30% decrease in the number of malaria infections.
Swiss TPH was in charge of the data systems for the study, keeping track of people, traps and health conditions.
“We have been working on malaria interventions in East Africa, especially Tanzania, for the past 30 years and are probably the top institute for malaria field studies in continental Europe,” Thomas Smith of the Swiss TPH told swissinfo.ch.
He said the traps cost $60-$70 (CHF59-CHF69), most of which is for the solar panel which is installed on the roof of the homes. Despite the relative high cost, Smith is confident of the uptake of the trap in East Africa.
“Many Kenyans now use solar panels for lighting and charging their phones. Some mobile phone service providers even provide credit for the purchase of solar panels,” he said.
According to Smith, there is potential to apply the same principle to other mosquitoes, like the ones that are vectors for Dengue and Zika, for example.