Wageningen Univ. joins malaria fight with "human flavored" mosquito trap

Professor Willem Takken of the Wageningen University believes that he can eventually completely eradicate malaria using a mosquito trap that smells like a human body. The research into the use of this trap was published in The Lancet medical journal on Wednesday, ANP reports.

An international team led by Takken tested the so-called Suna-trap on the island of Rusniga in Lake Victoria in Kenya. Each of the about 25 thousand island residents hung such a trap on their front door.

The human odor lured the mosquitoes, which were then blown into a bag with a fan, where they dried out and died. Fewer mosquitoes mean fewer malaria infections.

After three years, the malaria infections on the island dropped by 30 percent. Takken believes that using one of these traps for long enough and widely enough can eradicate malaria - a disease that kills a child every minute, according to the World Health Organization - completely.

According to Takken, a big plus is that the Suna-trap works without insecticides. "That's a big advantage, because mosquitoes become resistant to pesticides. The mosquitoes, however, do need a human attractant to survive. They can't arm themselves against it without dying. The mosquito that transmits the Zika virus and dengue requires the same odor. The trap will also work against these serious infections."

"The malaria mosquito will not disappear, because there are 450 species." Takken says. "But that is not necessary: in Europe there is no more malaria. The mosquito is there, but without the pathogenic parasite. We need to reach that situation in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia too. For a tenner per person per year, every resident of a malaria area can have an odor trap. The attractant is easy to make in a lab."