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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Squashing the Mosquito Population

Air Date: Week of July 17, 2015

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The larvae of Culex mosquitoes make dense groups in standing water. A shift in the feeding behavior of those mosquitoes helps explain the rising incidence of West Nile virus in North America. (Photo: Image: James Gathany/CDC, CC BY 2.5)

Partially thanks to human activities, mosquitoes have been able to migrate across oceans and throughout the globe. Now, researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs are harnessing drone technology, genetic modification and disease databases to significantly reduce population numbers, and predict possible disease outbreaks.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Modern lab tools can give humans a leg up on these annoying insects as well – and already six million genetically modified male mosquitoes have been released to fight dengue fever in Brazil. When these modified males mate, they pass on a gene that kills the larvae and within six months the native mosquito population was reduced by 95 percent in a test area. That’s according to a report in the Public Library of Science journal, Neglected Tropical Diseases.

And another new initiative, this one from Microsoft, called “Project Premonition” aims to use drones to deliver mosquito traps to remote and rugged areas. There they can capture the troublesome creatures, and supply specimens to analysts looking to spot new disease outbreaks and potential epidemics.

 

Links

Modified mosquitoes begin blitz on dengue in Brazilian city

Study: nearly all offspring of modified male mosquitoes die

Project Premonition aims to use mosquitoes, drones, cloud computing to prevent disease outbreaks

 

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