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Mosquito season is in full swing, but new patch wants to save you from an itchy, scratchy summer – and help conquer malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses in the developing world.
Backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and based on technology developed at the University of California at Riverside, the Kite Patch is a small square sticker the size of a nicotine patch that attaches to clothing. It claims to makes humans “invisible” to mosquitoes for 48 hours by blocking mosquitoes’ ability to detect carbon dioxide, which is their primary way of finding people to feast on. (If you want more details on how mosquitoes choose their victims, my colleague Barb Darrow recently wrote a little post on the topic.)
And, it’s all non-toxic: the company says the its active ingredients are considered safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meaning that the Kite can be used by young children and pregnant women (the populations most affected by malaria in many developing countries).
“It will provide a new level of protection for children in Uganda, for young families in South Africa, and hikers in Seattle or Wyoming or Florida seeking a safer, socially-responsible solution. We built Kite to be simple and affordable – a small colorful sticker that will appeal to children and adults and survive the rigors of extreme climates, play time, or outdoor recreation,” Grey Frandsen, chief marketing officer at ieCrowd, the company behind the patch, said in a statement. ieCrowd focuses on turning technology with potential social and economic impacts into growth ventures and is helping to commercialize Kite Patch.
This week, the company launched an Indiegogo campaign with the goal of raising $75,000 to create the first batch of patches and fund a large field test in Uganda, where malaria infection rates are more than 60 percent. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2010 there were 219 million cases of malaria and 660,000 deaths, mostly among African children. The plan is to provide more than 1 million hours of protection for families in Uganda with 20,000 Kite patches. In the two days since its launch, the campaign has already raised more than $10,000.
The company has not yet said how much it will cost consumers when it’s ready for mass distribution, only that it will vary from market to market.