FROM THE FIELD: ‘Major breakthrough’ in fight against diseases spread by mosquitos

The aedes aegypti mosquito transmits zika, in addition to dengue and chikungunya.
IAEA
The aedes aegypti mosquito transmits zika, in addition to dengue and chikungunya.

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Major breakthrough’ in fight against diseases spread by mosquitos

Health

The UN nuclear agency (IAEA) has announced a major breakthrough in the bid to scale up technology designed to suppress disease-carrying mosquitos, and bring  dengue, yellow fever and Zika under control.

Anopheles mosquitos in the lab of the KEMRI/CDC research institute outside Kisumu, Kenya.
Anopheles mosquitos in the lab of the KEMRI/CDC research institute outside Kisumu, Kenya., by Sven Torfinn/WHO 2016

A study has shown that the use of a specialized drone, developed by IAEA and partners, to release tens of thousands of male mosquitoes, sterilized by using radiation, is effective: many of the sterilized males mate with females, who then produce no offspring, reducing the mosquito population over time.

The drones are cheaper than manual ground releases, and cover a much wider area, leading to hopes of a reduction in mosquito-borne diseases almost anywhere: a smaller, lighter version of the drone designed to meet stringent regulations for flights over urban areas, is also being developed.

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