A group of Chinese scientists has managed to wipe out what is considered one of the most invasive mosquitoes in the world by two Chinese river islands.
Scientists have used innovative techniques to control mosquito populations and have managed to eliminate almost completely (up to 94%) the presence of Aedes albopictus, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, from the two islands. This mosquito is one of the main vectors of infectious agents including those of the Zika disease, dengue fever and chikungunya, another viral febrile illness.
The scientists almost made the populations of this mosquito disappear from two river islands belonging to the Chinese city of Guangzhou. According to Peter Armbruster, an experienced mosquito researcher from Georgetown University who reviewed the study, the results achieved by Chinese researchers are remarkable and demonstrate the potential that humans have to strongly eradicate mosquito populations that are carriers of serious diseases.
The researchers bred mosquitoes infected by the bacterium Wolbachia in the laboratory and subjected them to a dose of radiation. This first phase led to both male and female insects being sterilized. This is a method by which hundreds of millions of sterile mosquitoes can also be “produced” in the laboratory. The latter can then be released in areas most prone to disease transmission.
This is what they did on the two islands where, after two years of this “treatment,” the researchers noted a 97% drop in mosquito bites that the locals have suffered. Furthermore, by performing analyzes using special traps, the researchers noted a decrease in the presence of female mosquitoes ranging from 82% to 94%. The mosquitoes left on the two islands probably come from external areas of the area that saw the treatment.
Costs? According to the microbiologist Zhiyong Xi, one of the researchers who conducted the study, they are around $108 per hectare “reclaimed” every year, a price that can all in all be faced for areas at high risk.
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