In pursuit of a killer

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A basic rule of military intelligence is to know the enemy inside and out. Learn his habits, strengths, and weaknesses. The same holds true in the fights against malaria, dengue fever, filariasis, and West Nile virus.

If public health experts are to have a chance at controlling these diseases, they need to understand exactly how the maladies’ main ally — the mosquito — operates.

In this article, Gretchen Vogel reports how, in Burkino Faso, several teams of entomologists are in active pursuit of the world’s deadliest animal. Despite having research budgets that are a tiny fraction of those spent to sequence the mosquito genome, they are beginning to characterize a dizzying array of genetic subtypes, learning what makes them dangerous — and vulnerable.

Link to Science article

Reference: Science 298, 87 (2002)