Sterilised mosquito trial slashes dengue-spreading population

Male Aedes aegypti mosquito

Now, thanks to an global partnership between Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Verily, and James Cook University, scientists have been able to eradicate more than 80 percent of these disease-carrying mozzies in three trial locations. Female mosquitoes were found unable to reproduce properly after scientists introduced sterile males to the population.

Scientists in Australia have managed to wipe out more than 80 percent of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, known for carrying Zika virus, in a field experiment, by rendering the male mosquitoes impotent.

The so-called sterile insect technique has been used before but the challenge in making it work for mosquitoes was being able to rear enough of them, identify males, remove biting females, and then release them in large enough numbers to suppress a population.

The experiments were done by researchers from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and James Cook University (JCU) and specifically targeted Aedes aegypti mosquitoes - which are responsible for spreading unsafe diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika. Then, last summer, they released over three million of them in three towns on the Cassowary Coast.

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CNN reports that the Aedes mosquitos are one of the three most unsafe species in the world, and that diseases carried by those three species account for almost 70 percent of all infectious disease transmissions globally.

The Aedes aegypti is responsible for infecting nearly 400 million people globally with diseases such as Zika, dengue and chikungunya. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus can spread through a number of ways including sexual contact, from mother to child, laboratory and healthcare setting exposure, blood transfusion, and primarily through mosquito bites.

These mosquitoes are also known to transmit dengue and chikungunya viruses. Instead, they spent their time mating with females who went on to lay eggs that never hatched.

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