Why Google's Verily Is Unleashing 20 Million Bacteria-Infected Mosquitoes in Fresno

Evrard Martin
Juillet 15, 2017

Mosquito Mate founder Stephen Dobson, who patented how to make the Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes, https://www.wired.com/story/verilys-automated-mosquito-factory-accelerates-the-fight-against-zika/ told Wired that the number of mosquitoes Verily is planning to release is "starting to get into the level where you can actually have an epidemiological impact on disease transmission".

"This invasive species has really changed everything about mosquitoes in California", Steve Mulligan, the district director at CMAD, told Wired.

The massive bug campaign being launched Friday in Fresno by Alphabet Inc.'s Verily Life Sciences is a part of a bid to cut the West Coast state's mosquito population - and possibly some of the diseases they carry as well. They aren't genetically engineered-rather, Verily (in collaboration with MosquitoMate and Fresno County) cooked up a project to infect the bugs with the Wolbachia bacteria.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito has been spreading in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2013 and is particularly widespread in Clovis and parts of Fresno. "The result of that mating is infertile eggs, the eggs will not hatch they will not produce offspring", he explained.

The skeeters in question are male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry pathogens that cause illnesses like Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. It plans to release 1 million infected mosquitoes every week for 20 weeks over the summer in an attempt to decrease the wild mosquito population in two 300 acre neighborhoods in the Fresno area. Because of these releases, there will be more mosquitos flying in the neighborhood. The company says they will then use automated devices to release the infected males evenly across the area.

Bonus, male mosquitoes don't bite, so Fresno residents won't have to worry about itching more than they usually would. But the male mosquitos don't bite and can not transmit diseases.

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