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World

AFP
July 11, 2018

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Sterilised mosquito trial slashes dengue-spreading population

SYDNEY: More than 80 percent of a dengue fever-spreading mosquito has been wiped out in an Australian town during a landmark trial scientists said Tuesday offered hope for combating the dangerous pest globally. Researchers from Australia’s national science body CSIRO bred millions of non-biting male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in laboratory conditions at James Cook University (JCU) in a project funded by Google parent company Alphabet. The insects were infected with the Wolbachia bacteria, which renders them sterile. They were then released into the wild at trial sites around the Queensland town of Innisfail where over three months they mated with females who laid eggs that did not hatch, causing the population to plummet. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is one of the world’s most dangerous pests, capable of spreading devastating diseases like dengue, Zika and chikungunya. It is responsible for infecting millions of people around the world each year and JCU’s Kyran Staunton said the successful trial was a major step forward.

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