Zika virus: there’s an app for that


TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — The refreshing sounds of nature can be really annoying to mosquitoes. That’s the claim of “Zika Seeka,” a free app that plays a symphony of sounds from mosquitoes largest predators.

“We have a combination of three different sounds in the sound that you’re hearing,” explains Stan Sofer, a Largo restaurant owner and self-proclaimed dabbler in inventions, who launched Zika Seeka. “For example, if a mosquito hears or senses a dragonfly, it will avoid it.”

Sofer primarily bills the app as a way to stay up-to-date on Zika information from news and health organizations. The audio functions to turn away mosquitoes are a secondary benefit. Sofer says he and his co-developer conducted their own studies of the effectiveness of the app, using controlled environment full of mosquitoes, and found the sound shield to reduce mosquitoes by up to 70 percent.

“We are an extra layer of protection. We want people to use clothing. We want people to use chemicals approved by the government. I don’t want children running around thinking this is. This is not. It’s an extra tool.”

Pinellas County Mosquito Control told News Channel 8 that there have been studies into the effectiveness of sound-based mosquito repellents for decades, but that there’s no solid evidence the measures work.

The agency also says that while Zika Seeka provides useful information, as well as news updates, it recommends using primary sources of information, rather than relying on an app that provides second-hand info.

Nonetheless, the app is free. So we took Zika Seeka to the park, to see if people found the app annoying or usable.

Susan Targove was there with her Grandson, Jackson. The toddler’s legs were covered in bites, due to recently spending just a few minutes outside, unprotected. She said she’d always use mosquito repellent on her grandson, but that she’d also give the app a try.

“If it’s meant to work, it should work. I would try it,” she said.

Ann King, who was walking the park with friends, also said she’d stick to more proven methods, but that she found the app’s sounds soothing and, “I would rather have that than Zika virus.”

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