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

Also Read: NASA ask Citizen Scientists to help Track Mosquitoes, Reduce Disease Outbreaks

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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NASA ask Citizen Scientists to help Track Mosquitoes, Reduce Disease Outbreaks

More citizen science data from more areas of the world could help, the US space agency noted

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NASA solar probe launch delayed. Pixabay

NASA has invited citizen scientists to help them track mosquitos known to carry and spread diseases like Zika, West Nile Virus and malaria to create new forecast models that can predict the spread of these diseases.

“We do not have enough information on the geographic distribution of mosquito and time-variation in their populations. If a lot of people participated in this citizen science initiative worldwide, it will help fill in gaps and that would help our work,” Assaf Anyamba, a scientist from Universities Space Research Association at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement.

NASA scientists have initiated the work with DEVELOP team — part of NASA’s Applied Sciences Programme, which addresses environmental and public policy issues — to create the models.

The teams blended the citizen science data with NASA satellite observations of land surface temperatures, humidity, soil moisture, elevation, vegetation and precipitation.

The data were then used to create an interactive, open-source map on Google Earth Engine to improve prediction models for disease-carrying mosquitoes.

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Mosquito, (IANS)

Early results have showed that vegetation, humidity and soil moisture made it easier for mosquitoes to thrive during the summer months. During the winter, elevation played a stronger role in creating mosquito-friendly habitats.

The public can help track mosquitoes by downloading an app called GLOBE Observer, and then collect data over the summer using the Mosquito Habitat Mapper tool in the app, NASA said.

Also Read: NASA Spacecraft Sends Back Close-Ups of Dwarf Planet Ceres

The app guides users through the process of identifying and eliminating mosquito breeding sites in order to reduce mosquito populations in their immediate surroundings.

More citizen science data from more areas of the world could help, the US space agency noted.

“Knowing the mosquito species and their approximate populations at a given time provides useful information on the potential of occurrence of a particular pathogen, or disease transmission,” Anyamba said. (IANS)