Baring arms against mosquitoes

James Cook University researchers are looking for volunteers to help test a new mozzie repellent – and they’ll receive supermarket and petrol vouchers for rolling up their sleeves.

The Mosquito Research Team at JCU are testing the effectiveness of a new mosquito repellent on behalf of skincare company Australian Blue Cypress Ltd.

Principal investigator Dr Stephan Karl from JCU’s Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, says the product has been tested as safe, and these new trials will be about finding out how effective it is.

“We want to know how well it works against Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which can transmit dengue, yellow fever and Zika virus, and Aedes vigilax mosquitoes, which can transmit Ross River virus and dog heartworm,” said Dr Karl.

The trials will take place over the next six months, with volunteers both in the lab and out in the community.

“For the laboratory trials, this will involve applying a dose of the Kakadu Blue product to the skin of your forearm and exposing it to a cage of up to 200 mosquitoes. These mozzies have been reared in the laboratory at the JCU Mosquito Research Facility in Cairns and so are free from any pathogens,” said co-investigator Dr Brogan Amos.

She said this would allow the scientists to determine the effective dosage and protection timeof the product against mosquito bites.

“We will also conduct a close-up video record of just your forearm – so not your face or any identifying features – during the times it’s exposed to the mosquitoes so we can take a closer look their landing and probing activity when they encounter the product,” said Dr Amos.

She said the team also needed volunteers to take part in field trials.

“These will be done at one of our field sites, either Cattana Wetlands or Holloways Beach. A dose of one of the products will be applied to the exposed skin of your arms and/or legs, and you will be trained to use a battery-powered aspirator to collect the mosquitoes that land there in a 60 second period three times an hour,” said Dr Karl.

He said each trial can be up to eight hours long, but the researchers did have an incentive for volunteers.

“Everyone will get a $30 Coles and a $10 petrol voucher per trial they complete. You can participate in one trial or all of them or somewhere in between,” said Dr Karl.

If you are interested in volunteering for the study, please contact [email protected]

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