Washington, Feb 3: A wearable device may effectively prevent bites from the mosquitoes primarily responsible for the spread of the Zika virus suspected of causing abnormally small heads in babies, a new study has claimed.
The OFF! Clip-On repellent device could be an effective tool against the Aedes aegypti mosquito - the primary vector of Zika, chikungunya, dengue, and yellow fever.
The device repels mosquitoes by releasing a vapour form of insecticide through a battery-powered fan, forming an insecticide "cloud" around the wearer of the device.
In order to test the effectiveness of the device, Christopher Bibbs and Rui-De Xue of the Anastasia Mosquito Control District in Florida studied how the device performed against hungry Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
The study was done outdoors in order to replicate real-world conditions. They found that the device caused high mosquito mortality and knockdown rates up to 0.3 meters from the device, enough to protect a single person wearing the device.
"In vector control, we see more often than not that tools available for consumers don't work for the intended purpose," said Bibbs.
"Just look at all the bug zappers, repellent bracelets, sonic bug repellents, and other zany creations that wax and wane in popularity," Bibbs said.
"Scepticism is inherent to the trade. But it was nice for a change of pace that one of these devices could actually do some good," he said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared an emergency over the Zika virus linked to microcephaly - which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads.
Latin American countries, particularly Brazil, have reported a surge in cases of microcephaly since the Zika outbreak was declared in the region last year. The study was published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.