FKMCD released Wolbachia-infected male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes on Stock Island today as part of a field trial of a new control method. pic.twitter.com/2MJvFBNc7k
— FL Keys Mosquito (@FlKeysMosquito) April 18, 2017
Earlier this week, Florida took a new step in its fight against the Zika virus. State officials released its own mosquitoes to try and reduce the local population numbers. These recently liberated specimens were specifically infected with a bacteria which should help stop the spreading of the species.
The mosquito release was carried out by Florida Keys Mosquito Control District authorities. They freed 20,000 male specimens on Stock Island. Through this somewhat unusual method, the state officials will be trying to fight off both Zika as well as other diseases that manifest in the area.
Florida’s Own Mosquitoes Are Carriers Of The Wolbachia Bacteria
Florida’s own mosquitoes were bred by MosquitoMate. This is a Kentucky-based company which specializes in non-genetically modified, natural mosquito solutions. The Stock Island release is a trial test as specialists will be looking at it in order to determine the method’s efficiency and applicability.
All the study specimens are male and have been specifically exposed to the Wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacterium. The plan is to let them loose to mate with Aedes aegypti female mosquitoes. This species is known for being the main carrier of the Zika virus.
As the two species mate, the resulting eggs should not hatch. Even if they do, the ensuing mosquitoes will reportedly not reach adulthood. As such, the mosquito population should be kept at a low as the species stops excessively reproducing.
The Tuesday release is just the first stage in the trial. This will be carried out over a period of three months. State officials will be releasing a new batch twice every week. They will continue doing so until the total liberation of 40,000 additional male specimens.
Authorities hope that this trial will help put a stop to Zika transmissions. Also, it can be helpful in halting the spread of other dangerous diseases as well, as mosquitos are known for carrying various viruses.
“A successful trial with the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes could mean the availability of a new tool in the fight against the Aedes aegypti mosquito […] for the Mosquito Control Districts around the country.” This is according to Executive Director, Andrea Leal.
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