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Zika fight: Bacteria-laden mosquitoes released in Florida to combat viruses

 

MONROE COUNTY, Florida. – The Florida Keys fly at the 40,000 mosquitoes per week, to take their own humming vacations, of sorts.

“There is 1,000 man aedis agypti mosquitoes in this tube,” says Catherine Pruszynski, field officer for the Florida Keys Mosquito District.

Pruszynski is packaging 20 tubes in her bag, all full of male mosquitoes.

Twice a week she runs a 10-acre test site on Stock Island (right next door to Key West)—part industrial, part residential—putting her mouth up to one end of the tube and then blowing the thousands of mosquitoes out of the air, to mix and mingle with the native mosquito population.

AS ZIKA SEASON IS APPROACHING, STATES EFFORTS TO COMBAT VIRUSES

The males don’t bite humans, instead of the pursuit of their goal: finding a female to mate.

And this is where the “mad science” comes in.

The male mosquitoes in the tubes coming from Kentucky MosquitoMate laboratory, who has collaborated with the University of Kentucky. In the lab, the males are lined with a natural bacteria called wolbachia, which has the effect of sterilizing the men.

“That is the main advantage with this trial. The mosquitoes have fed on the bacteria, they are released and they do the rest. She is looking for a woman, the mate and the ovum dies.”

So, logically, the local mosquito population should be dramatically shrinking in time.

Aedis Agypti women with blood lust for humans and the mosquitoes that bite you and can spread the devastating and potentially deadly viruses of Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya.

YOU SHOULD STILL BE CONCERNED ABOUT ZIKA?

In 2016, Zika pandemic in the Western hemisphere has infected more than 5,000 Americans, mostly travel-related. Florida with local sent Zika cases, 217, requires the governor to designate Miami Beach and the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami as the active Zika zones. It is most dangerous for pregnant women who get bitten by a Zika-carrying mosquitoes, such as the Centers for Disease Control has concluded for babies can lead to microcephaly, a severe birth defect. The CDC still advises all pregnant women against traveling to the Miami-Dade County.

In Southern California, this kind of mosquito that is infected with more than 3,000 people with Dengue fever in the past three years, a problem that has also surfaced in the Florida Keys over the years.

That is the reason why the Keys’ mosquito experts are eager to see how effective the tubes are buzzing with thousands of lab-reared and bacteria-fed males will be in this 12-week experiment.

“People come to the Keys to fish, boat, outside,” said Florida Keys Mosquito Commissioner Jill Cranney-Gage. “If we are not the mosquitoes, it would be miserable. People would not live here.”

As for the eradication of the Aedis Agypti mosquito population, Dr. Dobson says that it is probably impossible, because the wind always blows mosquitoes from elsewhere.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, and the state surgeon general, Dr. Celeste Philip, have already started with the staging of the preparations for this summer, when it’s wet and humid season gets underway. And no one wants another summer of Zika.

Phil Keating joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in March 2004 and currently serves as FNC’s Miami based correspondent.

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