Bacteria-infected mosquitoes are coming to Fresno - but it's a good thing!

Oceane Deschanel
Julho 15, 2017

Google's parent company Alphabet's life science unit - Verily, has come up with a plan to release 20 million lab-modified, bacteria-infected mosquitos upon Fresno, California to combat Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitos. Earlier this year, a woman contracted the first confirmed case of Zika in Fresno through sexual contact with a partner who had been traveling. As fears rise of a mosquito bite then spreading the virus to others, Verily made a decision to take action and attempt the innovative measure. Verily's plan, called the Debug Project, hopes to now wipe out this potential Zika-carrying mosquito population to prevent further infections.

There's a growing fear that since there are mosquitoes capable of carrying the Zika virus are already in the area, it's could be a matter of time before they actually start carrying the harmful virus - and worse, start infecting people.

Aedes aegypti are invasive and first appeared in the central valley region of California in 2013.

Could messing with the mosquito population have some unforeseen disastrous consequences?

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Bonus, male mosquitoes don't bite, so Fresno residents won't have to worry about itching more than they usually would. It uses them to produce infertile male insects treated with naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria, and has used its custom-built machines and algorithms to increase its production of mosquitos.

Verily has not revealed how much Debug Project is going to cost, but Linus Upson, the Debug Project member, revealed that Verily has planned to do something similar in Australia after Fresno.

"This study will be the largest US release to-date of sterile male mosquitoes treated with Wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacterium, and will take place over a 20 week period in two neighborhoods each approximately 300 acres in size", wrote Verily in a blog post.

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