Scientists exploring new ways to tackle the ongoing problems of malaria in East Africa have come up with the so-called “Trojan cow” project which aims to get mosquitoes to bite cows or goats rather than humans.
The project is one of three currently being developed by a biotech company called Isca Technologies based in California.
The “Trojan Cow” programme works by treating cattle and goats with a formulation that makes the livestock smell like people to mosquitoes.
The odour which mimics the smell of humans, entices malaria-carrying mosquitoes to bite the cattle, which are immune to the disease. A deworming medication in the cattle then kills the mosquitoes.
Small-scale trials of the programme have already been carried out in Tanzania where initial results were highly promising but a larger testing programme is due to begin elsewhere in East Africa soon by applying it to livestock, such as cows and goats living adjacent to the homes.
“You see goats everywhere,” Agenor Mafra-Neto, the founder of Isca told the Times newspaper.
“We thought wouldn’t it be great if the mosquitoes were attracted to the cows and goats? Cows and goats don’t get malaria,” he said.
If successful, the spray could be incorporated into livestock deworming programmes across the East African region in future.