Scientists have released some experimental mosquitoes meant to attack those which carry the Zika virus. Thousands of mosquitoes carrying the Wolbachia bacteria were recently unsealed in an area near the Florida Keys. Researchers’ purpose is to adopt a new approach, hoping to limit the number of female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which are known to transmit Chikungunya, Dengue fever, and Zika virus.
Scientists released experimental mosquitoes to kill Aedes aegypti female mosquitoes which transmit the Zika virus
Based on the data provided by the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, approximately 20,000 male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were sent on Stock Island on April 18 which were engaged in a field trial that will last 12 weeks. These male mosquitoes do not bite and have been infected with a bacteria known as Wolbachia. This is present in the cells of several types of insects except mosquitoes.
Researchers have manually injected the bacterium in these mosquitoes in a lab before the trial. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District explained that the infected male Aedes aegypti copulate with female Aedes aegypti ones, the eggs produced by the female will not hatch. Thus, they will never be able to reproduce. Researchers hope that the result will be the reduction or even the elimination of female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that transmit so many dangerous illnesses.
These Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes are released twice a week from 20 different spots
Zika virus poses a massive threat to all pregnant women because it can cause terrible consequences for infants born to mothers infected with the virus while pregnant. Based on the data provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 10 Zika-infected mothers delivered their babies with specific congenital disabilities in the last year in the US.
Andrea Leal, the executive director for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, stated that if their trial with Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes proves to be successful, this could mean that Aedes aegypti male bugs represent a new tool in fighting Zika virus. The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia are scheduled to be released twice per week, being launched from twenty different locations in the area designated for the medical trial.
The Mosquito Control Office announced that even if male mosquitoes do not bite, a noticeable increase of mosquito activity will follow the releases. To develop this trial, the mosquito control office in the Florida Keys are collaborating with MosquitoMate in Kentucky.
Image source: wikipedia