ProkoPack Mosquito Aspirator

New Weapon in Fight Against Mosquito Borne Diseases

Those in industrialized countries have the luxury of viewing the mosquito as merely an irritating pest. For people in developing nations, especially sub saharan and tropical locales where a significant portion of the world’s population resides, mosquito borne diseases are a serious and potent danger. A staggering proportion – almost 50% – of the world's population is at risk for contracting such illnesses, which in turn lead to roughly one million deaths a year.

Field Testing in Kenya
Field Testing in Kenya

While it is easy to see that the best way to combat mosquito-spread pathogens is by stopping the insects themselves, it is considerably more difficult to gather the vital data on their behaviors and breeding areas to do so. One of the most critical tools in mosquito collection and study is the aspirator, a device that vacuums and stores mosquitos for lab analysis. Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec, PhD, and Uriel Kitron, PhD, of Emory's Environmental Studies Department are responsible for the creation of the ProkoPack™, a formidable upgrade to this important device that improves it in several key ways.

Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec, PhD
Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec, PhD

One such way is in its flexible and modular design. One major flaw of traditional aspirators is that they are heavy and cumbersome. The ProkoPack™ is much lighter and allows the user to modify its potential reach with mechanisms like telescoping extension poles and flexible tubes. Not only is the device able to reach higher and tighter spaces, but the area a researcher can cover with the ProkoPack™ is much greater than that of a normal aspirator.

Another large improvement is in the ProkoPack™’s economical value. The cost of a typical aspirator is much higher, limiting the amount of devices a research facility could potentially obtain. One of the main goals behind ProkoPack™, according to Vasquez-Prokopec, is to put forward a tool that reduces the cost of entry needed to battle mosquito related diseases.

ProkoPack
ProkoPack

“Truthfully, with access to a [hardware store], you can build this unit, that we estimate [costs] 45 dollars,” Vasquez-Prokopec told CNN in an interview about the ProkoPack™ tool.

The device has exciting potential beyond simply capturing and counting mosquitos: because of the higher quality of data collected, researchers could greatly improve modern knowledge of mosquito ecology, especially for blood-fed mosquitoes. ProkoPack™ devices are already being tested from Coastal Kenya to Italy, where it is outperforming current "gold standard" methods for mosquito capture. This novel instrument has the potential to play a major role in fighting one of the greatest sources of disease known to man.

Additional Emory Publications on Prokopack™

Emory University: A video interview with inventor Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokope

Emory Press Release: Mosquito hunters invent better disease weapon

Emory eScienceCommons: Mosquito hunters invent better disease weapon

Emory Report: Lab invents better weapon for mosquito wars

Additional Piece from CNN: Africa desk video story