(CTN News) – Health authorities are considering a proposal from a business firm to effectively reduce the population of dengue-carrying mosquitoes in the Caribbean, thus addressing the increasing number of dengue fever cases.
A Barbados-based company called Orbit Services Partners Inc. has recently unveiled a solution that aims to breed a less harmful version of the mosquitoes, rather than exterminating them.
The company has partnered with Verily, a health technology company based in San Francisco, for a project that involves releasing large numbers of male mosquitoes bred with a bacterium that blocks the dengue virus.
Anthony DaSilva, the Chairman of Orbit Services, revealed that discussions have been held with government officials throughout the region.
While no firm commitment has been made, we have obtained a license agreement with Verily for the entire Caribbean, except for the British Virgin Islands and Cuba.”
The initiative has a goal of moving away from traditional methods of controlling the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, such as using chemical insecticides. Instead, the plan involves introducing sterile that carry the Wolbachia bacterium.
These sterile mosquitoes breed with female mosquitoes, resulting in a decrease in the mosquito population over time and a corresponding decrease in the transmission of diseases.
According to DaSilva, the males that are released into the wild cannot bite because they lack the necessary apparatus. Therefore, residents need not worry about an increase in nuisance. The purpose of releasing these males is for them to mate with the wild population of females.
Typically, female mosquitoes only breed once during their average lifespan of around seven days.
By ensuring that the result of their mating is nothing, and doing so on a large scale, it becomes possible to suppress the population significantly. Once the population is suppressed, the transmission of diseases can be drastically minimized.
DaSilva disclosed that despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the proposal, which has been in progress for three years, is still pending approval in the individual Caribbean nations.
He emphasized that mosquito-breeding trials are currently underway in different regions across the globe. Notably, Singapore serves as a prime illustration where populations in controlled zones have witnessed a remarkable suppression of up to 90 percent.