Since older mosquitoes are more likely to harbour diseases that can be passed to people, Australian researchers say they may have found a way to stem the process: make the mosquitoes die younger.
Dengue fever and malaria are examples of mosquito-borne diseases that have stricken millions of people worldwide. It takes about two weeks for mosquitoes to acquire and incubate the pathogens that cause these diseases and then spread them to people, the Associated Press reports.
Parasite cuts mosquito lifespan
So scientists at the University of Queensland tried introducing mosquitoes to a bacterial parasite that cut the insects' lifespan by about half, to an average of 21 days from 50 days, the wire service reported.
Writing in the journal Science, lead researcher Scott O'Neill said the discovery could prove to be a safer alternative to the widespread use of insecticides.
If the parasite could spread among enough disease-carrying mosquitoes, the method "may provide an inexpensive approach in dengue control," he wrote.
(HealthDayNews, January 2009)