Bulk of mos­qui­toes that spread dengue, zika wiped out in Aus­tralia trial

Fiji Sun - - World News - Syd­ney: Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

More than 80 per cent of a dengue fever-spread­ing mos­quito has been wiped out in an Aus­tralian town dur­ing a land­mark trial sci­en­tists said on Tues­day of­fered hope for com­bat­ing the dan­ger­ous pest glob­ally.

Re­searchers from Aus­tralia’s na­tional sci­ence body CSIRO bred mil­lions of non-bit­ing male Aedes ae­gypti mos­qui­toes in lab­o­ra­tory con­di­tions at James Cook Univer­sity (JCU) in a project funded by Google par­ent com­pany Al­pha­bet.

The in­sects were in­fected with the Wol­bachia bac­te­ria, which ren­ders them ster­ile.

They were then re­leased into the wild at trial sites around the Queens­land town of In­n­is­fail where over three months they mated with fe­males who laid eggs that did not hatch, caus­ing the pop­u­la­tion to plum­met.

The Aedes ae­gypti mos­quito is one of the world’s most dan­ger­ous pests, ca­pa­ble of spread­ing dev­as­tat­ing dis­eases like dengue, Zika and chikun­gunya.

It is re­spon­si­ble for in­fect­ing mil­lions of peo­ple around the world each year and JCU’s Kyran Staunton said the suc­cess­ful trial was a ma­jor step for­ward. “We learnt a lot from col­lab­o­rat­ing on this first trop­i­cal trial and we’re ex­cited to see how this ap­proach might be ap­plied in other re­gions where Aedes ae­gypti poses a threat to life and health,” he said.

The so-called ster­ile in­sect tech­nique has been used be­fore but the chal­lenge in mak­ing it work for mos­qui­toes was be­ing able to rear enough of them, iden­tify males, re­move bit­ing fe­males, and then re­lease them in large enough num­bers to sup­press a pop­u­la­tion.

AFP

The Aedes ae­gypti mos­quito is one of the world’s most dan­ger­ous pests, ca­pa­ble of spread­ing dev­as­tat­ing dis­eases like dengue, Zika and chikun­gunya.

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