Microsoft Tests Trap that Captures Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes

August 23, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. infectious /ɪnˈfɛk ʃəs/ (adj.) – capable of spreading from one person to another
Example: The new medicine can treat infectious diseases.

2. canister /ˈkæn ə stər / (n.) – a container that can hold something
Example: He poured hot water into the canister.

3. breed /brid/ (n.) – a particular group of animals that have specific characteristics
Example: Poodle and Akita are examples of dog breeds.   

4. humidity /hyuˈmɪd ɪ ti/ (n.) – the amount of moisture in the atmosphere
Example: There are many mosquitoes in areas that have high humidity levels.

5. outbreak /ˈaʊtˌbreɪk / (n.) – the sudden start or increase of something
Example: Everyone is worried about the Zika outbreak.


Read the text below.
Microsoft, one of the world’s largest technology companies, is testing a smart mosquito trap in Harris County, Texas, to fight the spread of Zika virus and other emerging infectious mosquito-borne diseases.

The trap, developed at Microsoft Research, is a foot-tall canister that is designed to capture breeds of mosquitoes that carry disease-causing viruses like Zika. The device has the ability to identify which mosquitoes it should trap based on the way the insects flap their wings. When a disease-carrying mosquito enters the trap, its door automatically closes. On the other hand, the trap door remains open if the mosquito that flies into it does not carry a disease.

Once a disease-carrying mosquito enters the trap, a notice will automatically be sent to the Harris County public health office. With the trap’s ability to capture data such as the time, temperature, and humidity when the mosquito entered it, researchers can gain more insights on mosquito-borne diseases.

The development of the trap is part of Project Premonition, a project initiated by Microsoft to monitor, detect, and prevent infectious disease outbreaks. According to Umair Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health, the trap is going to advance the field of mosquito control.

Meanwhile, another mosquito trap developed to prevent the spread of the Zika virus is awaiting federal approval in the United States. According to Phil Koehler [KOH-ler], one of the University of Florida professors who developed the trap, it can reduce the number of mosquito eggs by 80% when placed in a yard. When water is added to the trap that already has insecticide, it can kill mosquitoes for up to three months. The traps will be sold over the counter once approved.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What do you think is the best feature of the trap developed by Microsoft? Why?
·         Why is it important to identify disease-carrying mosquitoes?

Discussion B

·         What other animals that can cause diseases do you know of?
·         If you were to invent a device that could treat or prevent a disease, what would it be? Why?

August 23, 2016