By Sara BaragonaJanuary 31, 2011
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2010 -- With Florida's dengue outbreak last year, Key West residents became the beneficiaries of a mosquito-trap technology first developed by Army laboratories nearly a decade ago.
This month the "Lethal Mosquito Breeding Container" was selected as a winner of the Federal Laboratory Consortium 2011 Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. Army scientists Brian Zeichner and the late Michael Perich, who died in 2003, are scheduled to be recognized at an award ceremony May 5, at the Federal Laboratory Consortium's national meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
Perich, who worked at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, known as WRAIR, and Brian Zeichner of the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, now called the U.S. Army Public Health Command, teamed up to invent the mosquito trap almost 10 years ago. The technology was recently transferred to private industry for commercial use and distribution worldwide.
The World Health Organization considers dengue one of the most serious mosquito-borne viral diseases, with about 20 million cases a year and 100 countries affected. Dengue is a threat to deployed troops, as well as residents, of tropical and subtropical climates. A vaccine is not yet available, so mosquito control remains critical to prevention.
There are reports that conventional ground and aerial application of insecticides are not adequately controlling the mosquitoes that transmit dengue. Dengue is primarily transmitted by the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito, which is a container breeder, meaning the female will only lay eggs in a container holding water.
Perich and Zeichner believed they could use the "female mosquito's irrepressible urge to oviposit" to develop a trap with advantages over conventional methods of controlling the population of container-breeding mosquitoes.
The result was the Lethal Mosquito Breeding Container, a pint-sized cup with water and a strip treated with a small amount of pesticide. By killing adult female container-breeding mosquitoes and their mosquito larvae, the population of biting mosquitoes is substantially reduced, thus decreasing both the potential for disease transmission and the breeding stock for the next generation.
Protected by several patents, the technology was field tested at WRAIR, with results of up to 100- percent adult mosquito mortality.
Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between USAPHC and SpringStar, Inc., Zeichner worked with the small, U.S.-based pest control company to design a commercial version of the lethal ovitrap fit for mass production. The Office of Research and Technology Applications at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command then negotiated an exclusive, worldwide license between USAPHC, WRAIR and SpringStar.
After Florida's dengue outbreak, the state issued an emergency-use permit, and Zeichner traveled with SpringStar employees to Key West to distribute lethal ovitraps to area residents. They joined efforts with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, Armed Forces Pest Management Board, U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service, and Key West Naval Air Station.
The Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer is presented annually by the Federal Laboratory Consortium, recognizing laboratory employees for outstanding work in transferring a technology developed by a federal laboratory to the commercial marketplace.
A distinguished panel of technology transfer experts from industry, state and local governments, academia, and the federal laboratory system evaluated the nominations. Since its inception in 1984, the FLC award has become one of the most coveted honors in the technology transfer field, with nearly 200 federal laboratories honored for their work in projects that advance the mission of technology transfer.