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MSU plan would control deadly tsetse fly
Date:5/7/2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. For the first time, scientists have created a satellite-guided plan to effectively control the tsetse fly an African killer that spreads "sleeping sickness" disease among humans and animals and wipes out $4.5 billion in livestock every year.

Michigan State University researchers developed the plan using a decade's worth of NASA satellite images of Kenyan landscape and by monitoring tsetse movement. With unprecedented precision, the plan can tell where and when to direct eradication efforts.

Current control efforts in Kenya are ineffective and waste money by targeting tsetse-free areas, said Joseph Messina, associate professor of geography. Messina is lead researcher on the project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, to attack the tsetse fly.

"Our model dramatically reduces the cost of controlling the tsetse, and it's more effective," Messina said.

If applied, the plan would be effective in all of East Africa and other areas of the continent consisting of savannah, Messina said. The tsetse, which feeds on the blood of vertebrate animals, lives in 37 sub-Saharan countries and infects thousands of people and millions of cattle every year, affecting primarily the rural poor.

Funding for large-scale tsetse control has dropped significantly in the past 25 years, as has optimism that sleeping sickness technically known as African trypanosomiasis can be contained.

The Kenyan government would need an estimated $100 million to run tsetse control efforts in its targeted containment areas. The problem: It doesn't have nearly that much money and the government containment area is highly imprecise, Messina said.

The MSU plan would cost as little as $14.2 million. The plan relies on the use of targets which are sheets of dark-colored cloth sprayed with insecticide in more strategic areas. Targets are highly effective and the most environmentally friendly control method, said
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Contact: Joseph Messina
jpm@msu.edu
517-353-1715
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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