A new tool capable of identifying Zika-infected mosquitoes has been developed by scientists at University of Queensland in Australia.
The study published in the journal Science Advances found Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) was 18-times faster and 110-times cheaper than the current detection method. The new tool can effectively identify and target mosquitoes infected with Zika virus, potentially helping health authorities save lives.
“We can quickly identify mosquitoes that are infected with Zika virus so public health authorities can treat affected areas before disease spreads to humans,” said Maggy Sikulu-Lord from University of Queensland in Australia. “This is definitely going to be a game-changer in disease surveillance, especially in the prediction of disease outbreaks,” said Sikulu-Lord.
“It only involves shining a beam of light onto mosquitoes and using that information to determine if the mosquito is infected,” she said.
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause abnormalities in unborn babies and is linked to the rare paralysing condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS).
The technology had potential to detect a number of diseases including dengue and malaria, researchers said.
So far, NIRS technology has been shown to have a 94 to 99 per cent accuracy rate in identifying infected mosquitoes under laboratory conditions in Brazil.