Scientists have made the female Aedes aegypti mosquito Public Enemy No. 1. The Aedes aegypti, which transmits Dengue fever, Chikungunya, and the malicious Zika fever which causes flu-like symptoms and devastating birth defects like microcephaly in pregnant women, is being targeted with experimental mosquitos.

Male Aedes aegyptis do not bite. Scientists have harnessed their nature and mating preferences in an attempt to inhibit the reproduction of the Aedes aegypti species. The Wolbachia bacteria transmitted from the male mosquitos to the females during mating will cause the eggs produced by female Aedes aegypti mosquitos not to hatch, thus limiting the size of future generations.

The success of this experiment, which is in effect on Stock Island in the Florida Keyes, using 20,000 specimen, will hopefully mean a reduction in the spread of the Zika virus. A favorable result could mean a new tool in the arsenal of the fight against this disease.

A similar experiment in Australia back in 2011 showed great success, replacing a diseased population of mosquitos with a new, disease free generation. Future implementations and success could mean that targeted infections could turn formerly harmful mosquitos into vessels able to combat the airborne spread of disease and viruses like Zika.

Caroline

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/20/health/florida-mosquito-wolbachia-trial-zika/index.html