Could smelly waterbucks prevent disease?

From Global development | The Guardian Tue Jan 15 2013, 06:12:09

A collar worn by livestock containing animal odour repellent to the tsetse fly could transform the lives of farmers in Kenya

The tsetse fly, found in 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, can be a curse for smallholder farmers and their families. The flies carry the trypanosome parasite that can cause sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in livestock. But a group of scientists in Nairobi is developing a powerful insect repellent using the stench of waterbucks, a type of large antelope.

About two-thirds of Africa's population depend on small-scale agriculture, many of whom are livestock farmers. For these farmers, tsetse flies are a serious threat to economic development and food security. The economic loss in Africa's cattle production as a result of nagana is an estimated $4bn (£2.5bn) each year, according to the Stamp out sleeping sickness campaign.

With funding from the European Commission, ICIPE (International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology), a pan-African research organisation that investigates tropical insect science for development, has produced groundbreaking collars for livestock that contain the waterbuck smell, which tsetse flies do not like.

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