April 25, 2018
BOGOTA, April 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Millions of sterile mosquitoes will be released from drones over parts of Brazil to combat the Zika virus, after successful field tests were hailed as a “breakthrough” by the United Nations.
Once freed, the sterilized, laboratory-bred male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes – which spread Zika, dengue and yellow fever by biting humans – mate with females, but do not produce viable eggs, said the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“You can reduce the mosquito population over time and suppress the next generation of mosquitoes by up to 99 percent,” said Jeremy Bouyer, an IAEA scientist.
“Before we had no way to release mosquitoes by air. But now, with the use of drones, this is a breakthrough as it allows mosquitoes to be released on a large scale and it reduces the cost a lot,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Brazil was hard hit by the 2015 to 2016 Zika epidemic, a virus linked to birth defects in thousands of babies.