Health & Medicine - Posted by Andy Henion-Michigan State on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 12:53 - 0 Comments
Control killer fly with satellite tracking
MICHIGAN STATE (US) — Scientists have developed a plan to effectively control the tsetse fly using satellite images of Kenyan landscape and by monitoring tsetse movement.
The flies spread “sleeping sickness” disease among humans and animals in Africa and wipe out $4.5 billion in livestock every year.
Current control efforts in Kenya are ineffective and waste money by targeting tsetse-free areas, says Joseph Messina, associate professor of geography at Michigan State University and lead researcher on the project. “Our model dramatically reduces the cost of controlling the tsetse, and it’s more effective,” Messina says.
A tsetse fly target in Kenya. The sheets of dark cloth are coated with the scent of livestock to attract the tsetse and insecticide to kill it. (Credit: Paul McCord)
Paul McCord, MSU researcher, collects GPS data in habitat suitable for the tsetse fly near Baringo, Kenya. (Credit: Joseph Messina)
Straight from the Source
As reported in the journal Applied Geography, the plan would be effective in all of East Africa and other areas of the continent consisting of savannah, Messina says.
The tsetse, which feeds on the blood of vertebrate animals, lives in 37 sub-Saharan countries and infects thousands of people and millions of cattle every year, affecting primarily the rural poor.
Funding for large-scale tsetse control has dropped significantly in the past 25 years, as has optimism that sleeping sickness, technically known as African trypanosomiasis, can be contained.
The Kenyan government would need an estimated $100 million to run tsetse control efforts in its targeted containment areas. The problem: It doesn’t have nearly that much money and the government containment area is highly imprecise, Messina says.
In contrast the Michigan State model would cost as little as $14.2 million. The plan relies on the use of targets—sheets of dark-colored cloth sprayed with insecticide—in more strategic areas. Targets are highly effective and the most environmentally friendly control method, says researcher Paul McCord.
Current government strategy includes using targets and aerial spraying, but the spraying kills off beneficial species such as honey bees. “They’ve been trying to control the tsetse for more than 100 years,” Messina says, “but nothing has worked on a large-scale basis.”
The new plan is based on a simulation that uses satellite readings every two weeks dating back to 2002. The plan takes into account several factors, including temperature, amount of vegetation, tsetse lifespan, and location of cattle and other animals—to predict where the fly will be and when it will be there, McCord says.
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