Researchers from Texas A&M have created a type of mobile app to fight the Zika-spreading mosquitos at their source: standing water.
The Aedes mosquito that transmits the virus can breed in containers of standing water as small as a bottle cap, and the eggs can survive even without water for months. Still, the egg and larval stage is the best time to control the insect because the adult mosquito tends to be very resistant to traditional pesticides.
Using the newly developed app, people can record the number of different types of containers—old tires, buckets, bird baths, clogged gutters—that could harbor Zika-carrying mosquito eggs, along with the address of the property. The app then automatically adds the location to a website for local health officials to review.
“With our new app, community members—citizen scientists so to speak—can do surveys and note the prevalence and locations of potential mosquito breeding grounds,” said Jennifer A. Horney, PhD, MPH, CPH, associate professor in the Texas A&M School of Public Health. “This data will then all be mapped online, and health departments can use that information to prioritize areas for mosquito control measures.”
“We work with a number of people involved in community engagement, including many students, the Green Ambassadors in Houston, for example, who we’re going to train how to use the app,” Horney said. “The health departments get some free data, without having to use their own very limited staff resources, and it’s a great learning experience for the students as well.” The students will learn about sampling, data collection, data analysis and more.
“Effectively combating the spread of Zika will require contributions from many stakeholder groups,” commented Daniel W. Goldberg, PhD, assistant professor of geography in the Texas A&M College of Geosciences and of computer science and engineering in the college of engineering. “With the release of this app, members of the community will be empowered to help monitor and control the risk of Zika in their own neighborhoods.”
The app is available to download for iOS and Android devices.
Article adapted from original by Christina Sumners, Texas A&M.