The focus in this week’s interview switches to the subject of mosquitoes and the spread of malaria and other mosquito-transmitted tropical diseases. Something of a change from the more traditional pest management topics discussed in previews interviews, yet still a subject of relevance and opportunity for professionals.

No doubt already well known to listeners for his involvement over very many years in the global professional pest market, Rob Fryatt of UK-based Xenex, has for the last 15 years also been heavily involved in mosquito abatement worldwide.

Just after the turn of the millennium, Rob was involved with a wider group of people working with the Boston Consulting Group compiling a report for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The brief was to establish how best to invest the Foundation’s financial resources for greatest reward in the area of malaria control. Rob contributed a pest management perspective – basically how to get appropriate technologies into the hands of people in developing markets, in particular SE Asia and Africa.

The Foundation quickly picked-up on the use of insecticide treated bed nets – an action Rob views as the biggest intervention in the last 20 years.

However, with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, Rob is concerned regarding the future for malaria control with the already thinly stretched resources – it would be all too easy to forego the progress made. Malaria remains the single largest killer of children on the planet, after malnutrition and gastro-enteritis.

Emergence of neglected tropical diseases

Rob reminds listeners not to overlook the other mosquito-borne diseases – in particular dengue, zika, chikungunya and West Nile (WNF) fever – often referred to as neglected tropical diseases (NTD). In the US over the last 15 years, WNF has grown to such an extent that around 200 deaths are recorded annually, which has expanded the market such that now some 30% of National Pest Management Association (NPMA) members undertake mosquito work leading to a market worth in the order of $500 million.

With changes in weather patterns and climate, Rob predicts an upsurge in WNV in Europe – a threat the industry in not prepared for as it has, so far, been ignored.