Florida releases thousands of bacteria-infected mosquitoes to fight Zika

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District released 20,000 bacteria-carrying male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes on Stock Island on April 18, marking the initiation of a 12-week field trial, according to a CNN report. The Aedes aegypti is known to be the primary vector of the Zika virus.

The male mosquitoes have been manually infected with the naturally occurring bacteria called Wolbachia, which can infect 60 percent of all insect species. When passed from the male to the female mosquito, the bacteria prevents the eggs produced by the female from hatching.

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"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 not only our district, but for mosquito control districts around the country," said Andrea Leal, executive director for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, according to the report.

Mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia introduced to Aedes aegypti populations have previously been shown to reduce the local transmission of the dengue virus in nations like Vietnam, Indonesia and Brazil.

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