People all over the world are infected every year by mosquitoes which carry diseases like Zika, chikungunya or Dengue Fever.
In a landmark experiment, 80% of the mosquitoes that carried that disease were killed. In a lab experiment, an Australian team of scientists sterilized millions of killer Aedes aegypti – the most dangerous mosquitoes in the world.
Global warming is a good factor for mosquitoes spreading in many areas on the globe and affecting more people than ever. The first threat to humanity is the Zika virus and then followed by dengue fever and chikungunya, according to the World Health Organization.
The Sterile Insect Technique – Eradicating the Pest
In their experiment, Australian researchers bred 20 million male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The males (which do not bite) were infected with a naturally occurring bacteria called Wolbachia, which made them sterile.
Then, the sterile mosquitoes were released into the wild on a site close to the small farming town of Innisfail, in northern Queensland. In three months, the sterile males mated with the females. The female mosquitoes laid eggs, but they did not hatch. This made the population of mosquitoes decrease by about 80%.
The trial was funded by Alphabet, Google’s parent company. It was led by experts at James Cook University and The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
One of the researchers in the study, Dr. Kyran Staunton (James Cook University), said:
“We learned a lot from collaborating on this first topical trial. We’re excited to see how this approach might be applied in other regions where Aedes aegypti poses a threat to life and health.”
This process is called the Sterile Insect Technique, and scientists have been using it since the 1950s, but they never used it on Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
Researchers consider this approach useful in eradicating the dangerous insect from the entire world.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.