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How Drones Are Fighting Infectious Disease How Drones Are Fighting Infectious Disease How Drones Are Fighting Infectious Disease

How Drones Are Fighting Infectious Disease

In a remote area of Southeast Asia, drones are fighting a battle — not against terrorists or insurgents, but against infectious disease.

Researchers on the island of Borneo are using flying robots to map out areas affected by a type of malaria parasite (Plasmodium knowlesi), which most commonly infects macaque monkeys. In recent years, public health officials in the Malaysian state of Sabah have seen a rise in the number of cases of humans infected with this deadly parasite, which is spread, via mosquitos, from macaques to people.

By mapping the communities where these cases occur, researchers hope to figure out why the parasite is spreading from monkeys to people with greater frequency, said Chris Drakeley, a professor of infection and immunity at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom, and one of the researchers involved in the project.

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