Monday, 19 November, 2018

Google Is Releasing 20 Million Bacteria-Infected Mosquitoes in Fresno

Verily’s automated mosquito-rearing system at its factory in South San Francisco California Verily’s automated mosquito-rearing system at its factory in South San Francisco California
Johnnie Parks | 18 July, 2017, 04:39

Google's healthcare arm Verily announced just before the weekend it will release twenty million sterile male mosquitoes into the wild, in Fresno County, California. Mosquito Mate's earlier releases of modified mosquitoes were done by hand using plastic containers.

Here the scientists have turned to a naturally occurring bacterium called Wolbachia. Verily's plan hopes to now wipe out this potential Zika-carrying mosquito population to prevent further infections. That means that, over a long enough period of time, the Aedes aegypti population is expected to decline (hopefully reducing Zika incidence and risk in the process). To the tune of 20 million machine-reared, bacteria-infected mosquitoes that it's about to release into Fresno. "Hopefully you see less and less biting females", said Jodi Holeman, scientific-technical services director of Fresno County's Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District (CMAD). They have also been sorted by sex, and algorithms will control on-the-ground devices that will release and distribute the male mosquitoes evenly over two neighborhoods, each stretching 300 acres in size. Since the virus cannot replicate, the insects do not transmit these pathogens to human victims, which can help curb the spread of disease.

The idea of releasing millions of bacteria-infected mosquitoes may raise safety concerns but experts said that the particular technique used by Verily has been fairly well studied and is considered relatively safe.

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Trucks drive up and down streets of a town releasing millions of scientifically engineered mosquitoes during the dog days of summer? The said project cost $16 million Dollars and was supposed to cover Medellín, Colombia's three million people.

"We hope to demonstrate success with Debug Fresno that will benefit the local communities working with us on this study and later other communities globally where Zika, dengue, and chikungunya are endemic". This disease carrying species is perhaps best known for spreading the Zika virus as well as dengue, and also others.

"Field studies allow us to test our discoveries and technologies in challenging, real-world conditions and collect the necessary evidence to bring them to a broader scale", Verily says. Adding that a field trial in Australia is planned for later this year, Upson said, "We want to show this can work in different kinds of environments".

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