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Microsoft and Texas Team Up to Trap Mosquitoes with Zika

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The Houston area marks the first trials of a new trap developed by Microsoft to catch mosquitoes carrying Zika virus. In the effort called “Project Premonition”, ten traps will be set throughout Harris County.

These cylindrical traps “read” when and where the insects are trapped, along with the outside barometric pressure and humidity for 14-16 hour stretches. The data is either transmitted through Bluetooth or retrieved from a memory card in the trap.

Microsoft researcher Ethan Jackson told The Houston Chronicle: “The data that we’re seeing from even this first week is interesting. We can already see that the traps can distinguish between certain species of mosquitoes in real time. If you want to monitor Zika vectors or you want to monitor West Nile vectors, the trap can actually tell them apart and only capture the ones you’re interested in studying.”

This is good news on the heels of 13 reported cases of Zika virus in the Houston area and 46 in all of Texas. In 2015, 16 deaths occurred as a result of West Nile virus in Texas, with 275 reported cases. Luckily, there have been none so far this year.

Beginning in the next few months, Microsoft will fly drones throughout the country to seek out more information on mosquitoes. They don’t want to invade anyone’s privacy, other than the mosquitoes, so they will notify residents if a drone will be in their area.