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The app, created by Associate Professor Benjamin Jacob of USF’s College of Public Health, uses an algorithm that combines drones with satellite images to identify areas where mosquitoes breed.
A smartphone app that is helping to address the menace of malaria is becoming quite popular lately. The app, developed by Associate Professor Benjamin Jacob of the University of South Florida’s (USF) College of Public Health, uses an algorithm that combines drones with satellite images to identify areas where mosquitoes breed. Jacob traced 100% of the identified spots in 31 days to Uganda, where malaria leads to the highest number of deaths.
Jacob has been researching mosquitoes since 2010. After 10 years, he studied artificial intelligence algorithms on drones, which helped them trace the location of mosquitoes. This predictive mapping helped them discover 9,000 mosquito habitats with dengue and Zika viruses present in Hillsborough, Manatee and Polk counties.
The success of the app led him to launch an event called “Seek and Destroy”, which helped him use the app to locate government agencies in infected areas. The event is being used in Cambodia, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda to help their governments quickly identify vulnerable areas before the disease spreads.
Jacob went to Uganda, a region where malaria is the leading cause of death for children under five, and found that each of the 120 homes he studied had swarms of mosquitoes. About 200 mosquitoes were found in each of these 120 houses. With the help of local pest control officials he trained, Jacob was able to destroy 100% of the identified habitats in just 31 days. They also eliminated blood parasite levels in previously treated and suspected malaria patients in 62 days.