Cobalt technology from Austria to battle mosquitoes 

by Dilanthi Jayamanne

The Austrian government has pledged to provide Sri Lanka with cobalt technology to control mosquitoes. The spokesman for the Health Ministry said yesterday that the Austrian Government had deployed an entomologist to assess local laboratory facilities and their suitability for adapting the method which is already being practised by them.

The Spokesman said that testing would commence next month. Several countries in the world, including the USA, Austria and South Africa use cobalt radiation to control mosquitoes. The method is new to Sri Lanka which has used biological methods and pesticides to control mosquito breeding.

The Health Ministry said that the use of pesticides had been a problem as it posed a threat to eco-friendly insects as well. Mosquitoes developed a resistance to these pesticides. The spokesman reassured that the radiation method would not be harmful to the environment.

The method had already been successfully tested in Sri Lanka to control the malaria mosquito. However, it would also be tested for the control of the dengue mosquito by next year. Its success would be of tremendous assistance in dengue control programme, he said.

Further tests would be carried out in collaboration with the Atomic Energy Authority, he said.

Explaining the method, he said that mosquitoes were bred in the thousands inside a lab facility which was specially equipped. The male mosquitoes were separated and sterilised using Cobalt radiation before being released into environment. The process prevented the female mosquito from producing eggs.

The spokesman said that the Austrian government had pledged to provide the technology. Following which training would be given to several employees attached to the National Mosquito Control Programme by a group of Austrian entomologists who would be arriving in the country next month, he said.

Meanwhile, the number of dengue patients reported from the beginning of the year to date has topped 38,000 while the highest number of cases has been reported from Colombo (8,496), Gampaha (7,072), Ratnapura (3,623), and Kalutara (2,527).

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