Scientists use crime-solving techniques to control disease-spreading pests

Homeowners may already compare pests to criminals, and now researchers are giving them even more of a reason to do so. PhD researcher Mark Stevenson at Queen London University is using geographic profiling (GP) often used to track high profile killers to study animal and insects, which could change how people think about and deal with disease-causing pests.

The science
"What do serial killers have in common with great white sharks, invasive species and malaria-transmitting mosquitoes?" Stevenson writes in his abstract. "They are all traveling from a central location in some kind of predictable pattern. If we can work out the pattern, it is possible to estimate where they live based on where we know they have been."

GP can help law enforcement and detection agencies identify likely areas where a serial offender resides or uses as a home base, such as work or a friend's place, according to the National Institute of Justice.

In the study of insects and animals, GP is used to study animal foraging. Stevenson explains while science has already enabled medical and biology professionals to track animal patterns, knowledge of where disease-spreading pests originate from is still lacking, according to Phys.org. For example, scientists still don't know where malaria-transmitting mosquitoes come from.

GP in epidemiology has already proven successful, the news sources states. A cholera outbreak in 1854 has been reexamined and researchers have studied and malaria outbreaks in Cairo using the technology. Scientists were able to rank the locations where diseases were spread by severity of reach.

Being aware of local dangers
The technology's use to control dangerous bugs and rodents is still in its developing stages. While malaria and similar diseases may not be of urgent concern to homeowners in the U.S., it's a good idea to be aware common household pests may carry potentially deadly diseases.

Rodents are common household pests known for their potential to transmit dangerous illnesses to residents and their pets. Diseases can be spread through rodent saliva, eye and nose secretion and droppings. Homeowners should take action to prevent an infestation by sealing up any cracks and crevices in their homes and eliminating moisture in attics and basements.

If residents suspect unwanted critters on their property, they should contact a pest management professional immediately to ensure there is limited damage to their property and their safety is not put at risk.


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