Scientists have found a type of bacteria that kills off the mosquito that carries malaria. That’s good news. The way the bacteria works means it could also be used to make sure there is never a plague of vampires. That’s even more good news.
Anopheles gambiae, the blood-sucking, malaria-carrying mosquito has been a deadly adversary to humanity for a long time. Malaria kills almost a million people per year. Researchers have come up with hundreds of potential ways to combat the disease, from engineering a malaria-proof mosquito to shooting the mosquitos that carry malaria out of the sky with lasers. This latest effort might also fight more mythical foes of humanity.
Wolbachia is a bacteria that preys on insects. It is not carried by the type of mosquito that carries the malaria parasite. Scientists guessed that it might be fatal to this type of mosquito, and infected them with two different strains of Wolbachia, hoping for a way to kill off the carriers to stop the spread of the disease. The bacteria spread quickly, and even seemed to manipulate the mosquitos’ immune systems to give itself the run of the insect’s body. What’s more, it inhibited the growth of malaria in the insects. But they didn’t seem to die. They sucked down the sugar that the scientists provided them quite happily, and lived quite healthily. Then they were fed blood, and died in a day.
Not only does this bacteria seem like a good way or reducing the amount of mosquitos that feed on blood, it actively prevents a mosquito from dining on infected blood, and then moving on and infecting another person. This could be a good way to keep the spread of malaria under control.
But that’s not all it can do. Movies have shown that vampires need a stake to the heart, a bullet to the base of the brain, sunlight, or getting their heads ripped off in order to kill them. They’re fast, strong, and tough to pin down. This might be an entirely new way of preventing a vampire apocalypse. All they need is to infect humanity with this bacteria, let it live harmlessly in our guts while we eat sugar, and then if any of us are turned into vampires and make our first kill – blammo. Dead in a day.
Republished from io9