Scientists in Australia have managed to wipe out more than 80 percent of disease-spreading mosquitoes in an experiment conducted in the northeastern state of Queensland.
Aedes Aegypti Mosquito
Australian scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization or CSIRO and James Cook University carried out the experiment alongside Verily, Alphabet Inc.'s research organization devoted to the study of life sciences.
The scientists targeted Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and bred nearly 20 million of them in James Cook University laboratories.
Mosquitos Infected With Natural Bacteria
They infected the male mosquitoes with bacteria known as Wolbachia to sterilize them, and later released 3 million of them in trial locations along the Cassowary Coast in North Queensland from November 2017 to June 2018.
The sterile males were unable to bite and they could not transmit diseases. The female mosquitoes, on the other hand, were found incapable of reproducing properly when they mated with sterile males, resulting in the collapse of more than 80 percent of the population.
"The invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito is one of the world's most dangerous pests, capable of spreading devastating diseases like dengue, Zika and chikungunya and responsible for infecting millions of people with disease around the world each year," said Rob Grenfell, the director of Health and Biosecurity at CSIRO.
"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 per cent of infectious disease transmissions globally."
The scientists say that the experiment offers new hope in the fight against the spread of deadly viruses such as dengue and Zika virus. This recent success could also help other regions where this mosquito thrives.
How Does A Virus Such As Zika Spread?
Viruses such as Zika are transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. 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. They typically lay eggs near standing water and become infected when they feed on people who are already infected with a virus.