Google Eradicates 95% of Infectious Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes in Fresno

Verily Life Sciences 'Debug Fresno' partners, Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District and MosquitoMate reduced the number of female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

google with a magnifying glass

The 2nd season of Debug Fresno has ended, and Google’s parent company Alphabet said they are pleased with the results. 

In a November 13, 2018 website post, Verily Life Sciences, a unit of Alphabet, said ‘the outcome was decisive.’ 

‘In April 2018, we hatched the first batch of eggs, fueled up the release vans, and embarked on a plan to conduct the world’s largest study of Wolbachia-based Sterile Insect Technique targeting Aedes aegypti.’ 

‘Our data indicate that we achieved a greater than 95 percent reduction in the number of biting, female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes compared to similar, non-release neighborhoods (confidence interval: 93.67 - 96.78).’ 

‘Aedes aegypti is a highly invasive mosquito that has proven difficult to combat with conventional mosquito control methods, so strong suppression across three different release areas is an important validation of a new approach to controlling these dangerous mosquitoes.’ 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most kinds of mosquitoes are just nuisance mosquitoes, but some mosquitoes spread viruses that can cause disease. 

Except for the southernmost states in North America, mosquito season starts in the summer and continues into fall. 

West Nile virus is the most common virus spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States, says the CDC. 

Additionally, Americans can also get sick from less common viruses spread by mosquitoes, such as St. Louis encephalitis. 

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From 2004 to 2016, mosquito bites which lead to cases of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika were reported in USA territories, reports the CDC. 

‘The Verily team worked closely with Debug Fresno partners, Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District, and MosquitoMate, to gain insights on program performance and design.’ 

‘Critically, our data suggest that a suppression rate beyond 95% was limited in our release sites by incursions of female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes from neighboring non-release areas, indicating that integrated control strategies and larger release areas may make this approach even more effective.’ 

‘We also showed that starting early in the season is a highly effective strategy to achieve maximum suppression.’ 

‘Aedes aegypti is not just a nuisance, but also a potential public health threat to the people of the Central Valley of California and actively dangerous to millions of others around the world.’ 

The CDC has updated the estimated range maps for Ae. aegypti mosquitoes by using a model that predicts possible geographic ranges for these mosquitoes in the contiguous United States. 

‘We are energized by what we achieved this year and look forward to bringing this technology to communities most burdened by Aedes aegypti throughout the world.’