“Wearable technology can protect against mosquito bites during the day,” said James Logan, senior lecturer in medical entomology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Logan is also working on technologies to protect people through the clothes they wear and the accessories and furniture they own. His approach with clothing is two-pronged: impregnating the clothes themselves and also the detergents they’re washed with. By also incorporating insecticides into plastics, he hopes to extend protection to hats, handbags and household items.
One prototype recently trialed in Thailand was a school uniform laced with the insecticide permethrin to prevent infections from dengue. More than 1,800 students were enrolled from 10 schools, with five schools using the new product and the other five monitored as a control group. The number of mosquitoes caught inside classrooms of students wearing the treated uniforms was significantly reduced in the month after their introduction. The challenge, however, was making the effect last. The uniforms’ ability to knock down mosquitoes fell dramatically after four washes.
Logan is preparing prototypes of a wider range of products: general clothing, footwear, jewellery and detergents. By creating diverse good for people to choose from, Logan hopes these protective products will be “relevant anywhere in the world,” to overcome the barrier of human compliance.