New method to fight mos­qui­toes de­vel­oped

The Prince George Citizen - - Science -

NEW YORK — Sci­en­tists say they nearly elim­i­nated dis­ease-car­ry­ing mos­qui­toes on two is­lands in China us­ing a new tech­nique. The down­side: it may not be prac­ti­cal for larger ar­eas and may cost a lot of money.

In the ex­per­i­ment, re­searchers tar­geted Asian tiger mos­qui­toes, in­va­sive whitestrip­ed bugs that can spread dengue fever, Zika and other dis­eases. First, they in­fected the bugs with a virus-fight­ing bac­terium, and then zapped them with a small dose of ra­di­a­tion meant to ster­il­ize the mos­qui­toes. And re­leas­ing mos­qui­toes in­fected with a bac­te­rial strain not found in wild mos­qui­toes would stop them from re­pro­duc­ing. Mos­qui­toes need to have the same type to make young that will sur­vive.

For 18 weeks in 2016 and 2017, the team led by Zhiy­ong Xi at Michi­gan State Univer­sity re­leased male mos­qui­toes onto two small is­lands near Guangzhou, China, a re­gion plagued by dengue fever.

The num­ber of fe­male mos­qui­toes re­spon­si­ble for dis­ease spread plum­meted by 83 per cent to 94 per cent each year, sim­i­lar to other meth­ods like spray­ing in­sec­ti­cides and us­ing ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied mos­qui­toes.

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