HOUSTON- Microsoft is creating some buzz in Houston as they come to take on a new and unexpected challenge, mosquito-borne illness.
The technology giant is coming to Harris County to team up with the Public Health Department to set up 10 high tech traps and drones
Those will be used to study the mosquitoes that carry diseases like Zika, Dengue, and Ebola.
The project is a part of Microsoft`s Project Premonition, whose goal is to understand diseases before they become outbreaks.
“The tech that we`re testing here in Houston is the Premonition Trap, which is a robotic smart trap, that`s designed to understand what`s flying around in the environment and collect only what we want to collect.” Stated Ethan Jackson, a representative of Project Premonition.
The machine works by luring an insect into a tiny box inside the trap with carbon dioxide, then it uses infrared sensors to figure out what kind it is.
If it`s the right type of mosquito, then -- bam! -- the computerized trap door slams shut, sealing the blood sucker inside.
The computer in the trap then analyzes the mosquito and sends data to a lab.
“The idea is that if we can get enough of these mosquitoes and determine what`s in them, we might be able to observe a pathogen moving in the environment before it evolves to impact a large human population.” Says Jackson.
The scientists behind Project Premonition hope to use the data to understand mosquito-borne viruses, follow mosquito movement, and ultimately stop the spread.
Thankfully, county officials say there`s no reason to panic, stating they haven`t found any mosquitoes with the Zika, Dengue, or Chiungunya viruses so far in Harris County.
But just to be safe, the Public Health Department suggests minimizing the possibilities of mosquitos coming by emptying or removing objects that hold water, clearing out your rain gutters, wearing bug spray and long sleeves, and keeping your screens in good condition.)
So be safe Houston and thanks for doing what you can to make sure this summer doesn`t bite.