Honey traps set in the battle to beat killer disease leishmaniasis

English: Leishmaniasis ulcer on left forearm

English: Leishmaniasis ulcer on left forearm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sounds like a simple solution to addressing this awful parasitic disease.  Let’s hope it works.  If it does I wonder if it could be used for other insect-borne parasitic diseases such as malaria.



Fly, female sand-fly, fly
into my honey-trap, there to die.
Before you get the chance to spread
the parasite trypanosome,
you’re lured by my pheromone
and then you’re dead.

‘Cutaneous’ leishmaniasis ain’t so cute,
horrific sores like leprous skin,
whilst ‘visceral’ afflicts internal organs
and can kill.
No vaccine, just antimony,
a crude and nauseous drug regime
that takes its toll and takes its time to heal.

Fly, female sand-fly, fly,
be tempted, come inside
and land upon the baited chicken
thick-coated slick with insecticide.
No time to bite, this feast won’t last.
Your time for hosting parasite is passed
now you have died.




16th November 2013– headline from the Guardian

Notes:  “Honey traps set in the battle to beat killer disease leishmaniasis.”  Leishmaniasis is a serious health risk and is a particular problem in South America and the Middle East.  Worldwide, about 2 million people are affected every year.  Dogs act as a reservoir for the leishmaniasis parasite.  Female sand flies land on the dogs, bite them and then drink a little of their blood picking up the parasite in the process.  They then fly off, land on humans and bite them, thus passing on the parasite.  Keele University have developed a low-tech way to eradicate infected female sand flies; it is the female that is the key vector for spreading leishmaniasis.  They have devised a way of making the sand fly sex pheromone which is released attracting female sand flies to a particular site that is then sprayed with insecticide, wiping out the infected females.  Typically the pheromones are released around chickens that have been sprayed with insecticides.  Chickens are another favourite sand fly target and the female sand flies head for them. They land on them and are killed by the insecticide.  If this works it will provide health services in relatively poor countries with a low-cost technique that is also simple to operate. All you need are sachets of the sex pheromone and some insecticide.

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