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WATCH VIDEO: Florida Releases Experimental Mosquitoes To Fight Zika


Thousands of mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria were released in an area of the Florida Keys this week, in hopes of a new approach to control the disease-carrying female Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits Zika virus, Dengue fever and Chikungunya.

Zika Mosquito
Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes will be released twice a week at 20 different spots in the designated area for the trial. (AP)

According to the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, 20,000 male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were released on Stock Island Tuesday for a field trial that will last 12 weeks. The mosquitoes, which do not bite, have been manually infected with a naturally occurring bacteria called Wolbachia.

Wolbachia is found in the cells of many insects but not mosquitoes, so the bacterium is manually injected into the mosquitoes in a lab in advance of the trial.

As explained in a presentation by the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, when these infected male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes mate with female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the eggs she produces won’t hatch, thus they can’t reproduce. The result, they hope, will be a reduced or eliminated population of female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and the viruses they spread, including Zika virus.

Zika is a great concern to pregnant women and those hoping to become pregnant because it can have devastating consequences for babies born to mothers who were infected while pregnant. One in 10 Zika-infected mothers had babies with related birth defects in the United States last year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“A successful trial with the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes could mean the availability of a new tool in the fight against the Aedes aegypti mosquito for not only our District, but for Mosquito Control Districts around the country,” said Andrea Leal, executive director for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.

Research entomologist releases male mosquitoes in Key West, Fla., testing a new way to kill mosquitoes that carry Zika and other viruses. (AP)

These Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes will be released twice a week at 20 different spots in the designated area for the trial. While the male mosquitoes don’t bite, “increases of mosquito activity will be most noticeable immediately following the releases,” the mosquito control office warned.

The mosquito control officials in The Keys are working with Kentucky based MosquitoMate for this trial. The company conducted a similar trial in Clovis, California, in August 2016.

Outside of the United States, the first Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes were released into the suburbs of Cairns, Australia, in 2011 and quickly spread into the wild, replacing the disease-carrying population with the new, disease-free one, and replicating quickly into subsequent generations.

According to the research group Eliminate Dengue, testing so far shows the helpful bacteria remain. Additional field trials are underway in Indonesia, Vietnam, Colombia and Brazil.

But the officials in Florida haven’t put all of their eggs in one basket. They are also trying to move forward with a trial of genetically modified mosquitoes from British company Oxitec. OX513A is a male Aedes aegypti mosquito that is genetically engineered to pass along a lethal gene to their female counterparts that makes the offspring die.

The gene creates a protein that interferes with cell activity, killing the mosquito before it can reach adulthood. According to Oxitec, field trials in Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands resulted in a 90% reduction of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes over six months.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved the Oxitec trial in the Keys last summer but it has not moved forward because of community backlash and logistics. The Florida Keys Mosquito District said it is awaiting FDA approval on a proposed change in location for the trial.

To date, 5,238 cases of the Zika virus have been reported in the continental US and Hawaii, according to the CDC. Less than 300 reported cases have been locally transmitted. Florida and Texas are the only states in the continental US to report local transmission from infected mosquitoes, as most people are infected while traveling to areas where the virus is circulating.

Research entomologist releases male mosquitoes in Key West, Fla., testing a new way to kill mosquitoes that carry Zika and other viruses.


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Phyllis Coley
Phyllis D. Coley is CEO/Publisher of Spectacular Magazine and Host of Spectacular Magazine Radio Show. With a B.A. in English from NCCU, the Durham native began her professional career as Promotions/Marketing Director for New York City’s WKTU-FM. While at the radio station, Coley discovered the rap group Kid ‘n Play and managed them for five years, guiding their music and movie careers to success. Moving back to Durham, Coley produced a nationally syndicated television show, The Electric Factory, while working as News Director for FOXY 107/104. In April 2002, recognizing a void in highlighting the achievements of African Americans, she started her own business publishing ACE Magazine. Coley launched Spectacular Magazine in November 2004. Recognizing the lack of pertinent and truthful information, Coley began Spectacular Magazine Radio Show in March 2009. Coley is the organizer of Durham's Annual MLK/Black History Month Parade and the Annual North Carolina Juneteenth Celebration. She currently serves on Central Children’s Home Board of Directors, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Advisors, as Immediate Past Secretary of the Durham Rotary Club Board of Directors and is one of the founding members of the Triangle United Way’s African American Leadership Initiative.

One thought on “WATCH VIDEO: Florida Releases Experimental Mosquitoes To Fight Zika

  1. This is extremely dangerous and Wolbachia can never be taken back. Wolbachia is responsible for the most widespread pandemics in the animal kingdom (LePage and Bordenstein, 2013).

    Safety tests were never carried out on vertebrate species prior to Wolbachia-infected mosquito releases (carried out in Brazil, Columbia, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Australia, California, and Florida). It’s akin to putting genetic dynamite in a species.

    Wolbachia can survive about a week in a dead host. Lateral transfers to other species have happened. Thiscould be the reason that Zika is spreading out of control. Culex that naturally acquire Wolbachia are better vectors of malaria and West Nile virus (very similar to Zika).

    And YES, some species of Culex larvae will prey upon Aedes aegypti larvae. There are multiple ways this can happen.

    Wolbachia doesn’t just magically disappear when these mosquitoes die off naturally or are consumed.

    “Wolbachia spp. should be further evaluated as causes of human infection, especially as Wolbachia infection of mosquitoes is increasingly considered to be a tool for interfering with mosquito-borne transmission of human pathogens” (Chen, Dong, et al., 2015). NOTE: Filariodea coxI gene was not found in this case. Source:

    Source: More Proof Wolbachia Infected Mosquito Releases Might Be Causing the Most Devastating Zika Infections

    “These genetic tools might not be the best strategies for ZIKV given that at this point there seem to be multiple vectors not only at the species but also at the population level. The current genetic technologies would not be appropriately applied to such complex systems.” Source:

    I have submitted my comment to the FDA about the dangers of Wolbachia-infected mosquito releases. Here is a video recording (transcript shown at end):

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