We’ve all heard of the phrase “fight fire with fire.” Well, how about the phrase, “fight mosquitoes with mosquitoes”? Yeah, me neither. But, Miami is doing just that to combat a Zika virus that reeked havoc on the city two summers ago.
According to CBS Miami, thousands of male mosquitoes were released in South Miami’s Brewer Park last Thursday. The mosquitoes are non-biting and sterile, created in a Kentucky lab called MosquitoMate.
Researchers hope to reduce the population of infected mosquitoes by releasing millions of sterile male mosquitoes over six months to mate with the infected female mosquitoes already in Miami. When sterile mosquitoes mate with infected female mosquitoes, the female’s eggs will not hatch, thus ending the inheritance of the virus.
Miami’s director of mosquito control, Dr. William Petrie, talked to CBS Miami about this latest plan. “We would expect to see the mosquito population decline. If it works really successfully, the population will crash,” he said.
Let’s hope so. Releasing millions of more mosquitoes sounds awful. But if it works, it may very well be worth the inconvenience.
So far, it looks like it very well could work. In fact, MosquitoMate is confident that its mosquitoes will do the trick.
MosquitoMate’s Dr. Patrick Kelly said, “Last year in the Florida Keys, we saw an 80 percent reduction in the female, adult aedes aegypti population.”
Furthermore, Kelly and Miami’s mayor, Phillip Stoddard, said the mosquitoes that have been released shouldn’t pose a threat to the population. The bacteria that makes the mosquitoes sterile shouldn’t be able to be transferred to humans.
“This is the only technology that has zero downside to it,” Stoddard said. That’s good to hear, because Zika can be an extremely dangerous disease.
Zika can cause microcephaly which leads to “abnormally small heads and brain damage” to children whose mother contracted the disease while pregnant.
Fortunately, for the residents of Miami, local officials are being proactive to stop the advance of this disease. However, it may be a little inconvenient for a while.
Many residents, however, are thankful for the cities response to the virus. One mother, a Carlyle Concern, told CBS Miami that when she was pregnant last year, she had to stay indoors for fear of the virus.
If the $4.1 million dollar program works, other cities could look to see the same plan implemented.
So, good luck, Miami. Releasing mosquitoes sure doesn’t sound like fun, but it may very well be the relief that the city needs.
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