To Help Reduce Mosquito Population, Scientists Are Unleashing 20 Million Of Them

'Mosquito factory' churns out sterile males produced without genetic modification to fight Zika

A University of Wisconsin entomologist says the recent discovery of a mosquito in the state that's capable of transmitting the Zika Virus should not be a cause for concern. They first appeared in the central valley of California in 2013, and since then have become pervasive in Fresno County.

Aptly named Debug Fresno, the project will be executed by Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet, which is Google's holding company.

The team at Verily piloted the first United States release of male mosquitoes with Wolbachia into the Fresno area in 2016.

"It's a awful nuisance, a bad biting nuisance". While these diseases are not a current threat to people in California, it is predicted that they will be in the future.

His street is one that a white van circles each morning releasing one million male aedes aegypti mosquitoes a week. More than 5,300 symptomatic Zika cases were reported to the CDC since early 2015, but a majority of those cases were related to USA citizens travelling to affected areas.

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"International policies, such as the International Health Regulations, call for controlling mosquitoes on aircraft to prevent the introduction of mosquito-borne pathogens and invasive mosquito species", the researches said in the report.

For 20 weeks, Verily intends to release 1 million sterile, non-biting male mosquitoes on a weekly basis in two Fresno County neighborhoods.

The male mosquitoes are raised in machines and are infected with Wolbachia, a natural bacterium.

"If we can show that this technique can work, I'm confident we can make it a sustainable business because the burden of these mosquitoes is enormous", said Verily engineering chief Linus Upson, who helped create Google's Chrome web browser and now leads Debug.

"Over time, we hope to see a steep decline in the presence of Aedes aegypti in these communities", Verily says in a statement.

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