Studying whether stealing sleep from mosquitoes will stop spread of disease
Mosquitoes are often considered the deadliest animals on earth; the World Health Organization estimates 725,000 people die each year from mosquito-borne diseases. Many of these diseases, such as West Nile Virus and yellow fever, have experienced recent resurgences and caused public health crises. To combat these deadly menaces, a professor in Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is performing a collaborative project, looking to see whether sleep deprivation may disrupt the mosquito’s ability to cause health havoc.
This research is the first of its kind to study how sleep deprivation may affect a mosquito’s productiveness in finding human hosts, or even stop its ability to spread disease. Scientists are hopeful the research will reveal new ways to manipulate the environments in which mosquitoes thrive — in rural, humid areas of the world like sub-Saharan Africa, or cooler urban centers like New York City.
With cases of mosquito-borne diseases rising and the only effective current control mechanisms being chemically based, researchers say it is time to think outside of the box.