Low-Cost Device Catches, Kills and Identifies Vectors with Infectious Diseases

Technology #33502

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Mosquitoes feeding on the Passive Insect Surveillance Sensor Device
Bradley Willenberg, Ph.D.
External Link (med.ucf.edu)
Sudipta Seal, Ph.D.
External Link (sudipta-seal.ucf.edu)
Patent Protection

PCT Patent Application Filed

According to the World Health Organization, vector-borne diseases account for more than 17 percent of all infectious diseases, causing more than 1 million deaths annually. Confirmed cases of Dengue fever (DENV), Zika (ZIKV) or chikungunya (CHIKV) in the Americas over the past few years now pose a heightened risk for epidemics in the U. S., as well as in the traditional endemic areas like South America, Africa and Asia.

Unlike traps that only lure and kill insects, UCF researchers developed a low-cost Passive Insect Surveillance Sensor Device that also indicates whether an insect carries a specific infectious disease. This device can operate without electricity, has no moving parts, and does not require someone to send specimens to a lab. Thus, virtually anyone anywhere can use the device to better assess and respond to possible health threats from vector species in real-time, even in the more remote regions of the world. Additionally, the device is modular and can be scaled to detect one or more targeted diseases simultaneously.

Technical Details

The device consists of the following:

  • A payload reservoir with a releasing wick.
  • A bait containing two essential parts: a) A sugar water insect attractant or insect food source b) A detector conjugate that comprises a DNA aptamer-gold nanoparticle conjugated to a specific detector molecule that binds specifically to a pathogen protein. The protein can be specific to a virus, bacterium or parasite which causes disease in humans, livestock or other mammals.
  • When an insect infected with a targeted pathogen enters the trap and ingests the bait, the detector molecules bind to the pathogen protein and cause a colorimetric readout that is clearly visible.


  • Modular and scalable
  • Ability to detect one or more targeted diseases
  • Simple trap construction is self-contained, protected from the environment, durable and portable
  • Inexpensive, with no moving parts and does not require electricity or combustion
  • Easily deployable anywhere and activates with a simple pinch


  • Disease education and prevention
  • Vector-borne diseases