18 July 2017

A van of contagious mosquitoes

In the USA, 20 million infected mosquitoes will be released into the wild

Anna Kerman, XX2 century

Company employees Verily, the biotech "daughter" of Alphabet Inc. holding, which also owns Google, plans to release 20 million bacteria-infected mosquitoes in California, bred in laboratory conditions. And that's the good news.

The mosquitoes will be released in an area where there is a large population of Zika-infected mosquitoes of the species Aedes aegypti. Earlier this year, in Fresno, that's the name of this place, a woman was sexually infected with the Zika virus. The infection was transmitted by her partner, who had recently returned from a trip. This is how the first confirmed case of infection with this dangerous virus appeared in Fresno – and concerns about a possible outbreak of the Zika virus, carried by mosquitoes. To prevent a possible threat, Verily employees launched the so-called Debug Project, the purpose of which was to prevent the spread of the Zika virus by clearing the area of insect vectors.


Could this intervention be the destruction of mosquitoes Aedes aegypti – damage the ecosystem of the region? Unlikely. This particular species appeared in Fresno only in 2013 and did not have time to become an integral part of the biogeocenosis.

How is this supposed to work? Verily employees will release exclusively male mosquitoes infected with the harmless human bacterium Wolbachia. Males will mate with females and infect the latter. If everything goes according to plan, new mosquitoes will not hatch from eggs laid by infected females. It is also important that male mosquitoes do not bite, so that residents of the region can not be afraid about additional sources of itching.

The organizing company does not say how much it cost to prepare the project. It is known, however, that in the future Verily plans to hold a similar event in Australia.

"We want to show that this approach can work in different climates," says Linus Upson, an engineer from Verily.

The company is going to release about 1 million mosquitoes into the wild every week. The work will last 20 weeks and will be carried out in two Fresno districts. Previously infected with the Wolbachia bacterium, mosquitoes on such a scale were not released into the natural environment in the United States.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  18.07.2017

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