In an experiment, Australian scientists may have discovered a way to wipe out disease-carrying mosquitoes. The trial locations spread across north Queensland Australia and successfully took out 80% of the test mosquitoes. The test was conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and scientists from James Cook University (JCU), a public university in Townsville Australia.
The trials involved 20 million bred mosquitoes and the males were infected with bacteria to make them sterile. During the summer of 2017, over 3 million were released in three Australian towns on the Cassowary Coast.
The results were extraordinary. The males did not bite or spread disease and when they mated with females, the eggs did not hatch.
Rob Grenfell, the CSIRO Director of Health and Biosecurity, issued the following statement:
“The invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito is one of the world’s most dangerous pests. 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%) of infectious disease transmissions globally.”
The Zika virus outbreak back in 2015 is a classic example of how the diseases that mosquitoes carry can seriously affect a population. The virus infected millions of people worldwide and caused newborns to have neurological disorders. Scientists since then have been racing for a vaccine and CSIRO has made huge strides with their study.
Kyran Staunton from James Cook University issued the following statement about the study:
“We learned a lot from collaborating on this first tropical trial and we’re excited to see how this approach might be applied in other regions where Aedes aegypti poses a threat to life and health.”
The process called Sterile Insect Technique was developed in the 1950s but, the scientists involved in this study were the first to use the practice on Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
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