SYDNEY – A team of Australian scientists have identified a bacterium called wolbachia, capable of sterilizing and eradicating the fearsome Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which is responsible for spreading the fever diseases dengue, yellow fever, Zika and chikungunya around the world. In 2018, they sterilized three million male mosquitoes with the bacteria, releasing them into three regions in northeastern Australia.
The project is led by the National Scientific Authority Csiro, in collaboration with the University of Queensland, Cook University, the Berghofer Institute for Medical Research and biomedical electronic company Verily Life Sciences, as shown in the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences more than 80% of mosquitoes in the United States were killed in the three testing sites during 20 weeks into the project.
When the scientists returned the following year, they noticed that one of the three sites was nearly free of mosquitoes, which were nearly extinguished at the second site. At the third site, the population recovered, due to the survival of eggs and mosquitoes from other areas.
“This is a highly targeted approach and no insecticides are used that will affect all insects in the area,” wrote CSIRO medical entomologist Brendan Trewin. He adds that if the program is implemented on a large scale and frequently, entire populations of Aedes aegypti could be eradicated. Meanwhile, Verily Life Sciences is already working with the Singapore government to run the program across the city-state. The bacterial sterilization technique can also be adapted to the Asian tiger mosquito, “another important carrier of the four febrile diseases, which have the same reproductive behavior and are found in countries neighboring Australia,” adds Trewin.
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