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Researchers are using AI to monitor malaria-spreading mosquitos in Africa

Published Jun 11th, 2024 5:06PM EDT
Image: mycteria/Adobe

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Researchers with the University of South Florida plan to leverage AI to revolutionize the monitoring and current state of mosquito control and combat the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria in Africa. The researchers will collaborate with an interdisciplinary team to advance malaria research while exploring innovative solutions to target malaria-carrying mosquitos in real-time.

The project is part of an ongoing five-year plan to create evidence-based strategies to deal with the malaria problem plaguing Africa. The goal is to completely eradicate malaria by training a new generation of African scientists to better understand insecticide resistance and the geographical expansion of a new malaria vector that has started to invade the nation.

Two of the lead scientists on the project, Ryan Carney and Sriram Chellappan, will work with the others to train local scientists on how to leverage gathered citizen science data from, a global mosquito-tracking dashboard that was created back in 2002, to help create better mosquito control throughout Africa.

Mosquito BiteImage source: corlaffra/Adobe

This image-driven surveillance will work alongside unique algorithms that have been created as part of an AI-driven smart trap to lure and capture Anopheles stephensi, one of the most prolific mosquito vectors spreading malaria through Africa in recent months. The traps will also monitor the mosquitos, to learn more about them and how to eradicate them in large quantities.

Of course, not all mosquitos are bad, and we’ve seen some really good research surrounding mosquitos in the past, including genetically modified mosquitos that can’t bite. If researchers can truly find a way to eradicate malaria from these mosquito vectors, it would save hundreds of thousands of people from death. But first, we have to figure out some way to create a scaleable mosquito control system that can help deal with the problem vectors as they appear.

With tools like the mosquito dashboard and this new AI-powered smart trap, perhaps we are one step closer to creating a world where mosquitos aren’t a danger to humans because of the diseases that they can transmit. It will be interesting to see how this technology advances throughout the project, and perhaps eventually, the traps can even be sold to citizens to further enhance mosquito surveillance throughout the country.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.