A concept experiment was recently conducted by a multi-institutional research team, and the results prove that the drone deployment of sterile mosquitoes can help in reducing their population and eventually decrease the number of diseases caused by them. The new technique that has been developed by the research team shows potential and can help save many lives if appropriately implemented.
Malaria has been the cause of death and many health crises across the world which is caused by harmful mosquitoes itself, hence they are a public health hazard around the globe. More than just this, they can be easily held accountable for spreading infections like Malaria in the general population.
Traditionally, traps and netting have been used to add a protective layer, but the new approach which takes on reducing the number of insects itself is rather effective. The whole process involves sterilizing a segment of male mosquitoes and then releasing them into the wild, only for them to compete for food with other males in the area. It will lead to no off-spring being produced.
The only disadvantage that has come to light with this proactive approach is that someone would have to travel to the populated mosquito area and then release the sterilized males into the air. Regular releases will also have to be made to ensure that the process keeps ongoing. To avoid such a problem aerial methods of dispersal have been attempted and have proven to be much more successful and safer.
French, Swiss, British, Brazilian and Senegalese researchers have seen some of the best results that have come from the use of this new method. They have grown mosquitoes in bulk and then sterilized them through radiation. They are then packed at low temperatures into cartridges and themselves being cold, these mosquitoes don’t bite. Finally, they can be taken to the target site and released through a drone.
The drone that was used recently by a few researchers sets altitude over the target area and then slowly releases mosquitoes into the site in thousands. This technique allows for dispersal over larger areas as drone operators can load more cartridges and then send the drones to other sites. Even the more difficult to navigate areas can be easily checked off through this method.
The researchers have also tracked the effectiveness of their method by marking them with fluorescent dyes, and the new method has shown considerable improvement in comparison to the manual method without any reduction in the time and work that is required to accomplish the entire task.
Researchers of the technique have said that there are many other ways as well to attempt this method, but this could work with the pandemic looming over the world. The insect suppression methods have reduced over the past few months, and that could lead to an increase in infections and cases of patients affected by Malaria or dengue in the coming time.
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