The Bonkers scientist lets himself be “fed” by 1000’s of INFECTED mosquitoes – to cease the lethal illness
YOU may think your job sucks, but it’s nothing compared to that.
A brave Australian scientist spoke about how he had thousands of mosquitos bite his arm as part of a research into a deadly infectious disease.
An Australian scientist bites thousands of mosquitoes Photo credit: perran ross / twitter
Dr. Perran Stott-Ross from the University of Melbourne lets insects flow into his blood every day to rid the world of dengue fever, reports ScienceAlert.
The disease has exploded worldwide in the past 50 years, killing an estimated 25,000 people each year.
The insects that Dr. Stott-Ross feeds are infected with Wolbachia, a bacterium known to block dengue from spreading.
Speaking to ScienceAlert, the infectious disease expert admitted that the bites – up to 5,000 per day – occasionally sting.
The insects that Dr. Stott-Ross feeds are infected with Wolbachia, a bacterium known to block dengue from spreadingPhoto credit: @ MosWhisperer / Twitter
“Sometimes it can sting a bit when they put you in the right place, but most of the time it’s just a slight irritation,” he said.
“It absolutely itches later. As soon as I take my arm out, I have to resist the urge to scratch myself.”
Dr. Stott-Ross has been working with mosquitoes for years and regularly publishes photos and videos of his research to his 2,500 Twitter followers.
In a post that went viral in May, he shared a picture of his arm after a day of feeding and wrote that he had lost 16 ml of blood.
The bugs leave thousands of itchy bites behindPhoto credit: @ MosWhisperer / Twitter
Wolbachia is already a common infectious bacterium and is helping scientists fight dengue fever.
The microorganism has been a key part of recent efforts to eradicate dengue fever in Northern Australia.
The project started in 2011 and turned North Queensland into a “dengue-free area” for the first time in 100 years, said Richard Gair, director of Tropical Public Health Services in Cairns, back in April.
Research into how Wolbachia could help other dengue-affected areas includes rearing and feeding hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes.
Dr. Perran Stott-Ross studies infectious diseases at the University of MelbournePhoto credit: University of Melbourne
Dr. Stott-Ross’ work consists of infecting mosquito eggs with the bacteria, which is harmless to humans, and then breeding lines of Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes in the laboratory.
The release of these infected creepy crawlies into the wild can infect wild populations and stop dengue transmission in their tracks.
“You have to raise hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes in the lab and then release them everywhere,” said Dr. Stott-Ross opposite ScienceAlert.
“These particular mosquitoes don’t really travel far alone.”
What is dengue fever?
Dengue fever is a tropical disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Dengue fever symptoms usually develop suddenly, about 5 to 8 days after infection, according to the NHS.
Symptoms can be:
- a high temperature or a feeling of heat or tremors
- strong headache
- Pain behind the eyes
- Muscle and joint pain
- feeling or being sick
- a common red rash
- Abdominal pain and loss of appetite
Symptoms usually go away in about 1 week, although you may feel tired and slightly unwell for a few weeks after that.
It’s arduous work that requires a lot of blood, sweat and tears to feed the many thousands of mosquitoes.
Ross works with the mosquitoes every day and feeds them by sticking his arm through a bug-proof net.
Projects to release Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes to combat dengue pandemics are increasing worldwide.
A project in Kuala Lumpa, Malaysia has reduced dengue infections by 40 to 60 percent, said Dr. Stott-Ross.
Much remains to be done, but it seems the leaf is finally turning on the disease that infects an estimated 390 million people each year.
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