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Science Briefing

Technique tracks disease carriers

May 02, 2009|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A novel genetic technology will be used in Africa to track mosquitoes that can spread a disease disfiguring millions of people with often grotesque swellings, scientists said Wednesday.

"DNA barcoding," a technique that quickly obtains a unique genetic code, will help identify mosquitoes that spread elephantiasis, or lymphatic filariasis (LF). It results from microscopic, threadlike worms spread among humans by mosquito bites. The worm larvae can clog the lymph system and cause grotesque swellings. Mosquitoes have widely differing abilities to transmit LF, so identifying species can help refine use of insecticides.

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