MATHEMATICS is being used by Strathclyde University researchers to combat a deadly disease.

Dengue fever is caused by a virus carried by Aedes mosquitoes and the number of cases has grown dramatically in recent years with close to 60 million people catching it every year. Although it is fatal in only a small proportion of cases, it means deaths are still in the tens of thousands.

Mathematicians at the university are modelling the impact of an innovative mosquito-trap that could reduce cases of dengue fever that could save thousands of lives. Researchers believe a the new kind of mosquito trap may offer a solution.

The cost-effective technology works by attracting Aedes mosquitoes to a special solution which prevents 100 per cent of their eggs from hatching in the mosquito traps, or when laid anywhere else. This provides an alternative to the traditional seek and destroy, and pest-control method of spraying pesticides, which is labour-intensive, damaging to the environment, destroys biological predators and helps mosquitoes become more resistant.

UK project lead, Dr David Greenhalgh of the University of Strathclyde’s department of mathematics and statistics, said: “By applying modelling to the application of the trap, we can accurately predict how effective the traps are in different scenarios, at a fraction of time and cost, compared to what it would take to do full field tests.”

Researchers will develop models using existing data, which shows the positive impact of the trap on reducing dengue cases in the local vicinity.