Fungus to the Rescue

Some time back, Jonathan Adler and I debated the use of DDT to control malaria outbreaks in poorer parts of the world. I had to concede that in very limited circumstances, spraying living quarters with DDT looked like an effective use of this otherwise nasty chemical concoction. Now, from the Times of London comes news that there may be a much safer and equally effective means of controlling the mosquitoes that carry malaria parasite: a fungus similar to cheese mold:

British research has revealed that a common fungus can reduce malarial transmission by 98 per cent in the laboratory, by killing the mosquitoes that pass the parasite on.

The findings, from a team at the University of Edinburgh and Imperial College, London, suggest that spraying living quarters with the fungus, which is harmless to humans, could help to prevent infection with a disease that kills up to 2.7 million people a year.

A second study, in Tanzania, has indicated that the fungus is likely to be a practical method of malaria control in the field.

Ernst-Jan Scholte of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, who led the field research, said: β€œThe results are extremely encouraging. The fungi provide another tool in the fight against malaria.”

The approach to malaria prevention uses the fungus Beauveria bassiana as a biological pesticide.

I’d imagine that even the most diehard DDT supporter (and, yes, they’re out there) would have to concede that this would likely be a preferable alternative…

Thanks to my buddy Bobby for passing that along.

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