Published: Fri, November 10, 2017
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

EPA Approves Plan to Release Infected Mosquitoes to Stop Zika

EPA Approves Plan to Release Infected Mosquitoes to Stop Zika

The company just got EPA approval for its plan to end Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses in the U.S.by releasing millions of new mosquitoes in 20 states across the country. This will reduce the amount of biting, disease-carrying lady mosquitoes.

ZAP Males target Asian Tiger mosquitoes and other species known to bite humans.

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The company breeds and raises mosquitoes infected with the bacteria in their lab.

The company will start selling the mosquitoes, named ZAP Males, next summer to individuals and municipalities. "Evidence that rapidly spreading populations of Aedes albopictus may be much more competent at transmitting infections than previously thought could test those defenses and will require public health officials to stay focused on mosquito control and clinicians focused on tracking patients for signs of infection".

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Kentucky-based biotech company MosquitoMate infected the lab-grown male mosquitoes with Wolbachia pipientis, a naturally occurring bacteria found in many insects. The lab-grown mosquito OX513A tested there is a male Aedes aegypti mosquito that was genetically engineered to pass on a lethal gene, synthesized from E. coli and the herpes simplex virus, to wild female mosquitoes, causing the females' offspring to die. Dobson wants to see the ZAP mosquito released nationwide, and the company is already getting ready for trials of another species of mosquito, the Aedes aegypti-one of the deadliest species of mosquitoes.

Attack of the killer mosquitoes - but thankfully, they're not after us. We rely on a natural approach rather than genetic modification to reduce the mosquito population in your backyard... But it's actually the culmination of a 20-year scientific discovery with the goal of eliminating the deadliest vector-borne diseases, including dengue fever and the Zika virus. The program releases both male and female bacteria-infected mosquitoes that can't carry viruses like dengue that impact humans.

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The 19 other approved states are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia, as well as Washington, DC.

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