Scientists want to release 20 million male mosquitoes here

Automated larval rearing system at Verily

Automated larval rearing system at Verily

Verily has begun releasing sterile mosquitos into the wild as a way of reducing population numbers and the spread of disease.

Aedes aegypti are invasive and first appeared in the central valley region of California in 2013.

After becoming a standalone Alphabet division in 2015, Verily has grown rapidly, taking on numerous health technology projects, partnering with the drug industry and raising significant funds including US$800mil (RM3.43bil) from Singapore investment firm Temasek Holdings Ltd.

Verily has begun conducting their Debug Fresno Project in which they intend to release 20 million mosquitoes in total.

Verily senior engineer Linus Upson commented to MIT Technology Review, "If we really want to be able to help people globally, we need to be able to produce a lot of mosquitoes, distribute them to where they need to be, and measure the populations at very, very low costs". This way, the company will release a total of 20 million mosquitos carrying Wolbachia bacteria.

Bonus, male mosquitoes don't bite, so Fresno residents won't have to worry about itching more than they usually would.

Mosquitoes are infected with a natural bacteria called Wolbachia they aren't genetically modified. Verily's contribution has been to create machines that automatically rear, count, and sort the mosquitoes by sex, making it possible to create vast quantities for large-scale projects. "We hope to demonstrate success with Debug Fresno that will benefit the local communities working with us in this study and later other communities globally where Zika, dengue, and chikungunya are endemic". 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. 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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