Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

20 million mosquitoes to invade California in bug fight

20 million mosquitoes to invade California in bug fight

To the tune of 20 million machine-reared, bacteria-infected mosquitoes that it's about to release into Fresno.

The company is infecting male mosquitoes with a bacteria that creates non-hatching dead eggs when they mate with wild females, hoping enough of them pair together to result in a population decline, Bloomberg reports. That's good news, because the species of mosquito being used Aedes aegypti is an invasive species that can carry and transmit Zika and other diseases. It's certainly worth a swat.

Verily, Alphabet's life biotech division formerly known as Google Life Sciences, said last week that the Debug Project, an initiative to reduce the volume of disease-carrying mosquitos worldwide, is now ready for a test in the field. Now there's the fear of the inevitable mosquito-meets-patient if we don't do something about it.

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Aedes aegypti was first spotted in central California in 2013.

Verily's mosquitoes aren't genetically modified.

The male mosquitoes don't bite and the Wolbachia bacteria is harmless to humans.

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Organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have been working on the bugs for more than a decade, running pilot projects in countries including Indonesia and Brazil.

The biologist sorts mosquitoes collected in a trap in Hutchins, Texas.

Verily has not revealed how much Debug Project is going to cost, but Linus Upson, the Debug Project member, revealed that Verily has planned to do something similar in Australia after Fresno. The study would be conducted by Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District, MosquitoMate, and Verily, and this video is meant to inform residents of the possible activities of this study.

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The release of the sterile mosquitoes - 1 million each over a 20-week period across two neighborhoods - will be the biggest one in the date, according to Verily. The company's bug-releasing van will start traveling the streets of Fancher Creek, a neighborhood in Fresno County, on Friday.

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