For millions of people around the world, mosquitoes aren’t just a summertime nuisance. They’re disease-carrying killers. Researchers from the University of California-Riverside have developed a breakthrough that could forever change mosquito protection — and prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. The Kite Patch is a simple sticker that attaches to clothing and makes wearers virtually “invisible” to mosquitoes for up to 48 hours. The patch works by emitting chemicals that prevent mosquitoes from sensing the carbon dioxide humans exhale, which is how the insects commonly track us, but doesn’t include dangerous toxins that are used in traditional repellants.
Malaria, Dengue Fever and West Nile Virus are just a few of the diseases that mosquitoes share with their human hosts — all of which can be deadly, especially in the developing world, where access to life-saving medications is scarce. According to the World Health Organization, 219 million cases of malaria were contracted from mosquito bites worldwide in 2010, resulting in more than 660,000 deaths, mostly in Africa. Mosquito nets, toxic lotions and sprays, and anti-malaria medications may help, but they simply don’t do enough to protect people from bites.
The Kite Patch, which was created in partnership with ieCrowd, holds incredible promise. The product’s developers raised more than $500,000 during its Indiegogo campaign, and are now moving into the implementation phase. The Kite Patch will be available in the U.S. after it receives approval from the Environmental Protection Agency. But more importantly, researchers are now preparing for a large-scale field test in Uganda — one of the product’s key “battlegrounds”, where malaria rates top 60% —promising to bring more than 1 million hours of Kite Patch protection to the families who need it most.