News FocusChagas Disease

With Novel Paint, Chemist Aims To Vanquish the Vinchuca

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Science  11 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6082, pp. 666-667
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6082.666

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Bolivia has the globe's highest infection rates of Chagas disease, a slow-developing illness caused by the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite that can lead to extreme lethargy and even organ failure. The vector, known as the vinchuca (Triatoma infestans), lives in the walls of mud or adobe huts and feeds on farm animals. Research shows that shoddy and sporadic fumigation has resulted in a pesticide-tolerant bug population. Spanish chemist Pilar Mateo believes that her insecticidal paint—Inesfly 5A IGR—is the solution. Studies show it is effective for four to 20 times longer than traditional pesticide applications, and its microcapsule packaging of active agents reduces environmental and toxic risks. But adoption of Inesfly has been slow, partly because it lacks the approval of the World Health Organization's Pesticide Evaluation Scheme, the gateway to biocide use in the developing world. But Inesfly now seems poised for a debut.

  • * Jean Friedman-Rudovsky is a journalist in La Paz, Bolivia.

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