There is a method of making humans poisonous to mosquitoes. In fact, scientists and doctors have suspected that it was possible to make us poisonous to mosquitoes for 25 years, but there has not been enough proof to prove it. Now scientists are more certain of the concept.
The drug that is so poisonous to mosquitoes is to be found in a comparatively cheap tablet that has been used for deworming for 25 years. These tablets are passed out to populations who are at risk of river blindness (Onchocerciasis) which is caused by infection by Onchocerca volvulus – a parasitic roundworm discovered in fast-flowing rivers chiefly in Central and West Africa.
The drug, known as ivermectin or Mectizan, that kills the worms also kills mosquitoes, but it has a quite short effectual time span, which is one of the reasons why its usefulness for regulating mosquitoes has long been suspected but never confirmed.
There is a problem though – there just has to be one, does there not? The use of ivermectin to control mosquito populations can only be truly effective if everyone in the region starts taking the pills at the same time and keeps taking them. The pills are effective for around about a month, so everyone in a whole village would have to take a tablet on, say, the first of each month.
This does not seem like much of a difficulty, but scientists, doctors and aid workers say that it is in fact a nightmare attempting to get a thousand or even thousands of individuals to follow an annual campaign against such a significant threat as river blindness.
The drug itself has been in use against river blindness for 25 years already so it is known to be safe, although it can cause death in very rare incidents. Therefore, safety is not an a problem and villagers are not frightened of taking it.
The latest studies were carried out by scientists from Senegal and Colorado State University and their findings were printed in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The piece reports that the scientists vacuumed the mosquitoes off the walls of huts in three villages where individuals had consumed ivermectin and three where they had not.
There were 80% fewer malarial mosquitoes in the villages where the inhabitants had taken ivermectin. This is because the drug was killing the mosquitoes off at a much earlier age than is typical and it is usually only older mosquitoes that carry malaria because they have to get infected by a human host first.
Although the drug is fairly cheap, at the moment it is handed out one time a year during the worst season for the parasitic roundworm that causes river blindness. If it were to become used successfully to control mosquitoes, it would have to be distributed twelve times more often, which would present a huge drain on all resources financial, distributional and human.
Another objection to this course of action of treatment for mosquitoes is that to do it properly, everyone would have to get screened for infection by loa loa worms, because the drug also kills them, but as they die they can clog tiny blood vessels which can lead to coma and death. This would mean taking blood from millions and millions of individuals and testing for loa loa.
Owen Jones, the author of this article writes on more than a few subjects, but is currently involved with finding natural remedies for mosquito bites. If you want to know more, please go to our web site at Getting Rid of Mosquito Bites.