Discovery of mosquito linked to Zika Virus no cause for concern

'Mosquito factory' churns out sterile males produced without genetic modification to fight Zika

The mosquitoes will be released at a rate of one million per week for 20 weeks across two 300-acre neighborhoods in Fresno. Also known as yellow fever mosquitoes, they first arrived in the area in 2013 and are known to spread the Zika virus, dengue, and chikungunya (although none of these viruses are now spreading in Fresno).

Reared by machines, the male mosquitoes are infected with a bacteria that is harmless to humans, but creates non-hatching dead eggs when they mate with wild females.

The campaign, which starts on Friday, is run by Verily Life Sciences, which is part of Alphabet - the multibillion company that owns Google, the world's biggest online search company. They first appeared in the central valley of California in 2013, and since then have become pervasive in Fresno County. The effort will ramp up to the full 1 million mosquito capacity over the next week, Kathleen Parkes, a Verily spokesperson, told The Verge in an email. It was also a problem in South Florida. While these diseases are not a current threat to people in California, it is predicted that they will be in the future. It is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus.

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So it may seem odd to you when you hear about Alphabet Inc releasing 20 million mosquitoes in Fresno, California.

The released mosquitoes will be bred and infected with Wolbachia - a bacterium that is "naturally found in at least 40 percent of all insect species", according to The Scientist magazine. That's why this just might work: Wolbachia infections render the male mosquitoes released in Fresno sterile to any female that doesn't have a Wolbachia infection herself.

"Over time, we hope to see a steep decline in the presence of Aedes aegypti in these communities", Verily says in a statement.

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