Mosquito-Killing Laser to Prevent Equine Infectious Disease?

The lengths we, as horse owners, go to trying to keep mosquitoes away from our horses are endless. From topical fly repellents to feet through remedies, and fly sheets, hoods, and boots that all but hermetically seal the horse's body off from the outside world--you name it, we've tried it. But soon there will be a new option to consider: blasting the mosquitoes clear out of the sky.

Sound crazy? Not to the inventors at Intellectual Ventures. Originally designed for fighting malaria, the "mosquito laser," referred to the company as a photonic fence, could be equally important in fighting mosquito-borne illness in horses.

The concept behind the mosquito laser is relatively straight forward: When the device's camera (which is linked to a photodiode, a type of photodetector capable of converting light into either current or voltage, depending upon the mode of operation) detects a mosquito's beating wings, a laser hones in on and blasts the pest out of the sky before it can begin bothering your horses. The science behind the laser is, of course, much more complex.

The piece de resistance is that the unit is made from reused materials purchased from eBay, which means that if the demand for these units is as high as anticipated, the photonic fence will be affordable.

For sci-fi fans that picture this technology going awry and fear that they themselves will become accidental targets, Intellectual Ventures' website indicates that there are built-in safety features to ensure only female mosquitoes will be zapped.

Until the device becomes available to the public, horse owners are encouraged to consider vaccinating against mosquito-borne diseases. Talk to your veterinarian to design a vaccination protocol that is best suited to your horse. For added protection, remembering the five Ds: dusk, dawn, dress, DEET, and drain. That is, avoid being outside at dawn and dusk (when mosquitoes are most active), "dress" your horse with protective clothing (blankets, masks); consider DEET-containing mosquito repellents (or other insect repellents); and drain any standing water near the barn or any enclosures where horses live.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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