Trials In Australia See Eighty Percent Of Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes Wiped Out After Just Eight Months

Close up of the Aedes aegypti PongMoji/Shutterstock

"Although the majority of mosquitoes don’t spread diseases, the three mostly deadly types the Aedes, Anopheles and Culex are found almost all over the world and are responsible for around 17 percent of infectious disease transmissions globally."

Once confined to areas near the equator, the distribution of the Aedes aegypti is spreading thanks to a combination of urbanization, human movement, and climate change. The eradication of this bug should not cause too much ecological damage to Australia because it is not a native species.

This isn't the first time scientists have harnessed the power of male infertility to take on unwanted pests. It's a method called the Sterile Insect Technique and it has been around since the fifties. While laboratory-based studies have applied this practice to disease-carrying mosquitoes, implementation is tricky because of the large numbers of infertile males needed, difficulties in separating the sex of the mosquitoes, and the practicality of releasing them in numbers high enough to suppress a population. Fortunately, new technology is making this easier. 

Trials have been restricted to north Queensland for the time being, though Verily has announced it may organize additional tests. Meanwhile, similar trials are currently taking place in Brazil and the Cayman Islands.

To learn more about the process, watch the video here:

 

Oxitec Ltd/YouTube

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