Tuesday February 18, 2020
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Trial Wipes out More Than 80 per cent of Disease-Spreading Mosquitoes

The World Health Organization estimates that almost 4 billion people in 128 countries are at risk of contracting dengue. The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected female mosquito

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Malaria, Vaccines
This new type of bed net can help prevent malaria: Lancet. (VOA)

Mosquitos are one of the deadliest creatures on Earth. In a town in northern Australia, more than 80 percent of the mosquitoes that spread dengue fever have been wiped out in a pioneering tropical trial. Scientists say the results could help global efforts to eradicate the dangerous pest.

In the trial, millions of male Aedes aegypti, or yellow fever mosquitoes, were bred in a laboratory and infected with a naturally occurring bacteria that made them sterile.

They were then released near the small farming town of Innisfail in Queensland, 1,600 kilometers (995 miles) north of Brisbane.

Over three months they mated with females who laid eggs that did not hatch, causing the population to fall by about 80 percent. The type of mosquito used in the trial is responsible for infecting hundreds of millions of people around the world with diseases such as dengue, Zika and yellow fever.

The WHO says that the global incidence of dengue has increased 30 times in the last 30 years.
The WHO says that the global incidence of dengue has increased 30 times in the last 30 years. Pixabay

The project was run by researchers from Australia’s national science body, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or CSIRO, in a trial that received funding from Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

Dr. Rob Grenfell, the director of Health and Biosecurity at the CSIRO says the results are a major breakthrough.

“Now this is momentous in the sense that we have achieved a significant decrease in populations of mosquitoes in our test area here in northern Queensland,” he said. “But also to commemorate the incredible community that actually backed our science here, not only did they open their hearts and minds but also their homes to allow our scientists to come in and trap and test our mosquito-controlling technologies.”

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Australian researchers want to test the technology overseas in an area with high levels of dengue. They believe it could be a valuable weapon against a public health menace.

The World Health Organization estimates that almost 4 billion people in 128 countries are at risk of contracting dengue. The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected female mosquito. The WHO says that the global incidence of dengue has increased 30 times in the last 30 years. (VOA)

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Mosquitoes Pose Threat to More Than Half the World’s Population

Many species of mosquito feed on the blood of various hosts and ingest pathogens, meaning their bites can transfer diseases directly

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Mosquitoes, Threat, World
Below are 10 ways that the mosquito — Spanish for "little fly" — has affected humans and methods to mitigate the risks. VOA

A warmer climate, travel and trade are helping to spread mosquito-borne diseases as a deadly beast smaller than a paper clip poses a threat to more than half the world’s population.

World Mosquito Day on Tuesday commemorated the discovery in 1897 by British doctor Ronald Ross that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans, but the World Health Organization (WHO) warns progress against malaria is stalling.

Below are 10 ways that the mosquito — Spanish for “little fly” — has affected humans and methods to mitigate the risks:

1. Many species of mosquito feed on the blood of various hosts and ingest pathogens, meaning their bites can transfer diseases directly into the blood of hosts. This has made mosquitoes one of the deadliest animals in the world.

Mosquitoes, Threat, World
A warmer climate, travel and trade are helping to spread mosquito-borne diseases as a deadly beast smaller than a paper clip poses a threat to more than half the world’s population. Pixabay

2. Mosquito bites result in the deaths of more than one million people every year with the majority due to malaria, and the WHO warns nearly half of the world population is at risk. In 2017, malaria caused over 435,000 deaths.

3. About 90% of all malaria deaths occur in Africa. Currently in Burundi, more than half the population is infected with malaria.

4. Malaria cases continue to spread in countries including Uganda, where the Ministry of Health this week announced a 40% increase in instances of the disease this year to 1.4 million.

5. Dengue fever is a viral disease widely spread in tropical regions that 2.5 billion people are at risk of contracting. Up to 100 million new infections are estimated to occur annually in more than 100 countries.

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6. Most mosquitoes only fly an average of 400 meters. It is often humans, not mosquitoes, that carry a disease across communities and countries. The mosquito blamed for transmitting the Zika virus breeds in car tires, tin cans, dog bowls and cemetery flower vases.

7. After Zika spread to the United States in 2016, experts warned that more life-threatening diseases could be carried from the tropics.

8. Up to one billion additional people, including those in the United States and Europe, could be exposed to mosquito-carried viruses by 2080 if the climate continues to warm, according to U.S. research released earlier this year.

Mosquitoes, Threat, World
World Mosquito Day on Tuesday commemorated the discovery in 1897 by British doctor Ronald Ross that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans. Pixabay

9. If you have ever wondered why mosquitoes are more attracted to certain people, research published in the PNAS scientific journal demonstrated that some people are able to emit masking odors that can naturally repel mosquitoes.

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10. Hitting mosquitoes where it hurts — their eggs — is one way of controlling pesticide-resistant insects. North and Central American scientists in 2016 came up with a trap to trap eggs using two pieces of an old tire. (VOA)