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17 July 2017, 12:13 | Darnell Patrick
Alphabet's Verily releasing 20 million mosquitos this summer to counter disease-carrying insects
Over a 20 week period, male Aedes aegypti mosquitos that have been treated with a natural occurring bacterium (Wolbachia) will be released into the wild. The company's bug-releasing van will start traveling the streets of Fancher Creek, a neighborhood in Fresno County, on Friday. It was the first confirmed case of Zika in the area, and now there's a lingering threat of disease spread if any mosquito comes in contact with the patient.
As a bonus, male mosquitoes do not bite, so Fresno residents have nothing to worry about.
"This study will be the largest USA release to-date of sterile male mosquitoes treated with Wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacterium, and will take place over a 20 week period in two neighborhoods each approximately 300 acres in size", wrote Verily in a blog post.
Google's healthcare arm Verily announced just before the weekend it will release twenty million sterile male mosquitoes into the wild, in Fresno County, California.
According to Verily, the Debug project is an initiative which aims "to reduce the devastating global health impact that disease-carrying mosquitoes inflict on people around the world". Aimed at reducing the global impact of the disease-carrying insect, this is the Alphabet company's first USA field study.
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Once the release has been accomplished, the Verily team will compare the adult population and egg hatching rates in the trial areas to two control neighborhoods. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has also been conducting their own research in bacteria-infected mosquitoes.
Mosquito Mate, a local insect control company in Kentucky, previously made their own small field studies in Los Angeles and Fresno area.
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.
An automated mosquito mass rearing process has been developed at Verily.
Will infecting mosquitoes with a bacteria can put an end to humankind's fight against deadly viruses?
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