Monday, 3 March 2008

System developed to identify new mosquito species

Syed Akba
Hyderabad:  The city-based Indian Institute of Chemical Technology has developed a system to identify newer species of mosquitoes that cause malaria and filaria.
The system based on artificial intelligence is accurate and helps in rapid identification of mosquito species to enable public health planners and medical experts to take up vector control measures. Mosquito is a vector and transmits harmful organism from one person to another. Timely recognition of new species of Culex (filaria carrying mosquito) and Anopheles (malaria transmitting mosquito) will help in better planning to counter the type of diseases they transmit.
Mosquitoes are responsible for the death of one quarter of humanity since the advent of man on the Earth. Early and fast identification of newer species of disease-conveying mosquitoes will help in controlling dangerous ailments like malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis and filariasis.
The IICT's mosquito identification programme is an online expert system which helps not only in vector identification but also in disease management. It produces a "decision tree" for identification of common Culex and Anopheles species of mosquitoes.
At present pictorial keys of mosquito species are used for identification of new mosquito species. However, this old approach is not very effective, according to Dr US Murthy.
Vector identification is a basic preventive strategy to control mosquito borne diseases. Generally, experienced taxonomists are involved in the identification and characterisation of disease-causing mosquito species. "However, identification of mosquito species using visual inspection of pictorial keys is time consuming and error prone. Hence, it is desirable to have a computerised mosquito identification system for the accurate identification of unknown species," he points out.

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