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Abuzz aims to combat mosquito-spread diseases using cellphones


Itching to help combat the scourge of mosquito-borne diseases? I've got just the thing: Abuzz. The crowd-sourced project birthed in the lab of Stanford's Manu Prakash, PhD, is aiming to map the prevalence of mosquitos worldwide using audio recorded by cellphones.

Participation is simple: Spot a mosquito, grab your phone -- even an old flip one will do -- and point the microphone at it. Even just a second's worth of audio is enough to identify the mosquito species, team member Haripriya Mukundaraian, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, clarifies in the video above. Then plop it into their database and voilà, one more mosquito ID'd.

With accurate data about the distribution of mosquito species that spread dengue, Zika, chikungunya and other diseases, public health officials can work to lower the number of mosquitos and prepare to curb disease outbreaks before they start.

An accompanying press release explains the science behind Abuzz:

...mosquito species can be differentiated by the frequency of their wingbeats, which is what produces their characteristic whine. Knowing this, Prakash and his team created a mosquito sound library, organized by species, which powers the matching algorithm. Overall, the researchers captured about 1,000 hours of mosquito buzzing from 18 lab-reared and two wild mosquito species, all of which were species relevant to human health.

Sound like it might be for you? Then you just may enjoy a ittle mosquito buzz each time your phone rings as well.

Previously: How cellphones might help researchers battle mosquito-spread disease, Keeping mosquitos in check to prevent widespread disease and Model predicts best temperature for mosquito-borne disease transmission
Video and thumbnail photo by Kurt Hickman/Stanford News Service

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