Mosquito-borne diseases can lead to serious disability or death. These diseases, which include Malaria, Zika, West Nile Virus, Dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and more, contribute to the deaths of close to one million people worldwide every year. Moreover, of the over 300 million people who are affected by mosquito-borne disease, those who live are faced with an array of long-term symptoms. Current recommendations to prevent mosquito-borne disease rely on decreasing the bite rate of mosquitos. As such, an effective preventative measure has been the use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) containing the insecticide pyrethroids. These nets target adult mosquitos that are known to transmit the disease during nighttime. However, recent trends have shown that mosquitos are becoming resistant to various insecticides. In a recent study published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, researchers showcase a smartphone app that efficiently identifies insecticide resistance.
To accomplish this, the researchers filmed mosquito larvae in a dish to assess their motility. Then, various insecticides were tested on the larvae and the movement of the larvae and death rate were assessed. After this, an algorithm was developed, which can be used as a cellphone application, that can phenotype mosquito larva and then screen an insecticide-library to identify an appropriate larvicide.
This study demonstrated that the application developed by these researchers can be used to quickly and efficiently test the efficacy of various insecticides on mosquito larvae. This is a positive step forward for the elimination of mosquitos who have developed a resistance to currently used insecticides. Additionally, these findings will help to eliminate mosquito-borne diseases and provide greater access to life-saving insecticides.