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War Against Zika: China Breeding Mosquitoes To Kill Mosquitoes

  • Post By: MMansi Seth
  • 02 Aug 2016

Necessity is the mother of invention. No wonder a Chinese scientist has developed a technique to kill  Zika-carrying mosquitoes with mosquitoes. For this, special mosquitoes are bred at a ‘factory’ in Guangzhou. The scientists release about 3 million specially bred mosquitoes every week on an island which is 3 kilometre long.

Specially bred mosquitoes
The scientists first inject eggs of mosquitoes with bacteria a called wolbachia in lab at Sun Yat-sen University Centre of Vector Control for Tropical Diseases (SYUCVCTD). At this factory there are cages for breeding mosquitoes which contain about 1600 male mosquitoes and 5000 female mosquitoes. The eggs are collected from these cages. About 5 million mosquitoes can be bred here every week

How specially-bred mosquitoes ‘kill’ Zika
When the wolbachia carrying male mates with a female mosquito, the female gets sterlised. On the  other side when the female mosquito, that has been injected with wolbachia, will produce offsprings that are already infected with wolbachia. This will make transmission of disease to humans very difficult. Director of SYUCVCTD Zhiyong Xi says, “The aim is trying to suppress the mosquito density below the threshold which can cause disease transmission.”

He is the one who pioneered the idea of mosquito breeding Xi says that this technique will not only stem growth of Zika, but will also help in controlling dengue and yellow fever. Countries like Mexico and Brazil have shown interest in Xi’s experiment. Meanwhile, the mosquito population has come down by 90 percent on island where the wolbachia- infected mosquitoes are being released by the scientists.