Tackling malaria head on
With the African continent being home to 90% of malaria cases and 92% of malaria deaths, there is no doubt that aggressive intervention needs to take place. Caused by Plasmodium parasites which are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, malaria is estimated to cost Africa more than $12-billion a year in lost GDP. While vector control (spraying of insecticides) and the ingestion of anti-malarial drugs do have a large role to play in malaria prevention, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has seen an increasing incidence of mosquito resistance to certain insecticides. Add to this the side effects and inconvenience of taking the anti-malarial drugs and it is clear that a supplementary solution is needed.
Lumin8, in collaboration with the University of Pretoria’s Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC), has developed an innovative solar-powered mosquito trap that will have far-reaching effects in the fight against malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases.
Of 73 malaria-endemic countries that provided monitoring data for 2010 onwards, 60 reported resistance to at least one insecticide, and 50 reported resistance to two or more insecticide classes. In 2015, Africa had an estimated 191-million cases of malaria.
Who are we?
2 engineering entrepreneurs + 1 academic = malaria eradication alternative
The brainchild of two entrepreneurs, Lumin8 was formed to create a device that would complement current anti-malaria measures and concurrently assist scientists studying malaria and its prevention.
Quentin van den Bergh, owner of electronics components and manufacturing company P24 Interconnect and Kevin Godfrey, owner of invention incubator company Inventworx, have combined their cumulative engineering experience and knowledge to bring Silver Bullet and Halo to the market.
Leveraging the academic resources and mosquito ecology and behaviour experience of Prof Leo Braack from the University of Pretoria’s Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC), the team has conducted extensive testing in areas where malaria and arboviruses require vector control.
The two solar-powered mosquito traps will be manufactured and distributed at P24’s Edenvale, Gauteng facilities, which cover 1 000 m2 and have a production team of 48 highly experienced people.
Why a mosquito trap?
Mosquito traps are used for multiple purposes:
- They are almost always the standard approach used by entomologists to determine which mosquito species are present in an area and if disease-carrying species are present.
- They reveal seasonal population trends and also provide some index of population numbers of particular species of Anopheles or other potential disease-carrying mosquito species in an area.
- If mosquito control measures are introduced into that area, use of the traps can show the impact of such control measures on mosquito numbers.
- Traps can be used to catch as many vector species as possible to see what percentage of those mosquitoes are actually carrying the disease organisms, and therefore what the risk of disease transmission is in that region.
- Traps are also used in conjunction with chemical lures, to trap other species of insects such as moths and beetles to determine behavioural patterns and other vital information.
“In areas with high transmission of malaria, children under 5 are particularly susceptible to infection, illness and death; more than two thirds (70%) of all malaria deaths occur in this age group.”