The team found that near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) was 18 times faster and 110 times cheaper than the current detection method. “We can quickly identify mosquitoes that are infected with Zika virus so public health authorities can treat affected areas before the disease spreads to humans,” said Dr Maggy Sikulu-Lord of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation. “This is definitely going to be a game-changer in disease surveillance, especially in the prediction of disease outbreaks. It only involves shining a beam of light onto mosquitoes and using that information to determine if the mosquito is infected.”
The researchers said that they hope public health authorities will use NIRS to predict future disease outbreaks and save lives by treating mosquito populations in time. They also said that while they don’t think the technology will eradicate diseases, it will give researchers the ability to detect them quickly so that outbreaks can be stopped.
The technology has been shown to have a 94 to 99-per-cent accuracy rate in identifying infected mosquitoes under laboratory conditions in Brazil.