Sterilizing Mosquitos Could Save Thousands of Lives

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U.N. businesses say early subsequent yr, a number of international locations will start testing a nuclear approach that sterilizes male mosquitoes to manage the unfold of dengue, Zika and chikungunya to people. Guidance for testing international locations has been developed by the Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization says ailments transmitted by mosquitoes account for 17 p.c of all infectious ailments globally. It says yearly, greater than 700,000 folks die from ailments reminiscent of malaria, dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever.  

An Aedes aegypti mosquito known to carry the Zika virus, is photographed through a microscope at the Fiocruz institute in Recife,  Brazi, Jan. 16, 2016.Health Officials: More Birth Defects in US Areas With Zika

The mosquito-born Zika virus could also be liable for a rise in beginning defects in U.S. states and territories even in ladies who had no lab proof of Zika publicity throughout being pregnant, U.S. well being officers stated on Thursday.

Areas by which the mosquito-borne virus has been circulating, together with Puerto Rico, southern Florida and half of south Texas, noticed a 21 p.c rise in beginning defects strongly linked with Zika within the final half of 2016 in contrast with the primary half of that yr, the U.S.

The WHO says dengue has elevated dramatically lately resulting from elements reminiscent of environmental adjustments, city sprawl, and transportation and journey, placing half the world’s inhabitants in danger of catching the ailments.

Jeremy Bouver is a medical entomologist on the joint Food and Agriculture Organization and International Atomic Energy Agency. He says a novel approach that makes use of radiation to sterilize male mosquitoes provides new alternatives for controlling illness. He describes the Sterile Insect Technique as a kind of insect contraception.

“You release sterile males that will out compete the wild males in the field and they will induce sterility in the females so that their eggs will not hatch,” Bouver said. “And, so, you will control the next generation. And, if you do that for a long time enough, you will be able to reduce and even, in some cases, eliminate the target population.”  

Why Mosquitos Bite Some But Not Others

British researchers could have unlocked the key of why mosquitos discover some folks engaging, and depart others alone.  “What we found is that mosquitos have a keen sense of smell and when they find a smell they like, they attack,” says James Logan on the Centre for Sustainable Pest and Disease Management in Harpenden, England.Only a handful of the almost 400 chemical excreted by the physique appeal to the pests.

The approach was developed within the late 1950s by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and has been efficiently used to manage insect pests from attacking crops and livestock, such because the Mediterranean fruit fly.

A pilot program that can begin early subsequent yr would be the first time the Sterile Insect Technique will likely be examined focusing on human ailments.  The international locations the place the trials will happen will likely be introduced subsequent yr, though a couple of doubtless candidates reportedly embrace the United States, France and Brazil.

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