Turn-about appears to be fair play with the newest plan to combat the mosquito carrying the Zika virus.
Health News Florida reports that the initial trial – starting next March – to use bacteria to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito has been approved for Florida Keys. The mosquito also carries dengue fever and chikingunya.
The Wolbachia bacteria is a genus of bacteria that infect a high proportion of insects and offers an alternative to pesticide spraying. When a male Aedes aegypti mosquito with Wolbachia mates with a female, the eggs don’t hatch.
“It’s a benign, effective process that has gone through significantly more scrutiny than genetically modified mosquitoes,” said Ed Russo, chairman of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition. “Wolbachia has the broad support of all the people in the Florida Keys.
New ways to combat the pests are needed because fewer insecticides and pesticides are available, said Beth Ranson, spokeswoman for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. The Aedes aegypti population in Key West is also showing signs of resistance to some of the existing treatments, she said.
“We’re going to look at every available tool that’s out there that’s approved for us to try,” she said.
Zika virus has been linked to serious birth defects, including microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected.
In total, Florida has reported 1,031 Zika infections this year, with 179 local cases and 847 travel-related cases, including 108 pregnant women.
To read the full Health News Florida report click here.