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EPA approves 'Weaponized Mosquitoes' for IN, 19 other states
12 November 2017, 01:51 | Terri Saunders
EPA approves 'Weaponized Mosquitoes' for Indiana, 19 other states
According to a report in Nature, the Environmental Protection Agency told the Lexington (Ky.)-based startup MosquitoMate that "it could release the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis into the environment as a tool against the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus)". When released, the Wolbachia mosquitoes will compete with wild males for mates.
For more than 4,000 years, humans have battled mosquito-borne diseases, and now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved a line of lab-grown mosquitoes created to reduce the number of these illness-causing insects. But it's actually the culmination of a 20-year scientific discovery with the goal of eliminating the deadliest vector-borne diseases, including dengue fever and the Zika virus.
The EPA approval is good for five years, and applies to Washington, D.C., California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and West Virginia. If the bacteria shows the same effectiveness in this species, the company's mosquitoes could be a tiny, flying weapon in our battle against some of the deadliest diseases on the planet.
The infected mosquitoes won't affect other insects and the Wolbachia bacteria can not be transmitted to humans, pets, or other warm-blooded animals.
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The Chinese internet conglomerate also also owns several other short-form video apps for user-generated content. This summer, Reddit raised $200 million in new funding , giving it a valuation of $1.8 billion.
Company officials say the sale of the insects could begin by summer for mosquito control for homeowner associations, municipalities or individual homeowners.
Before the ZAP Males can be used, it they must be registered in those state or the district. While other companies that have done the same have received negative feedback, MosquitoMate has had mostly positive reviews during a public-comment forum in Florida.
Brazil, which struggled with a Zika health crisis that reportedly ended earlier this year, helped reduce the threat using similarly genetically modified mosquitoes in addition to fumigation.
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