Sterile insect technique field trials to eliminate malaria under way

Anonymous,  SA Department of Science and Innovation,  2018.

The first South African research trial for the biological control of mosquitoes using the sterile insect technique started in Jozini in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this month, with funding from the Department of Science and Technology. South Africa is making significant progress in reducing the incidence of malaria, and is now at a level where the country in a prime position to begin with complementary vector control strategies that address the problem of insecticide resistance. However, indoor residual spraying (IRS) using DDT and pyrethroid insecticides, while effective in controlling the disease, is unlikely to eliminate malaria on its own. IRS targets mainly indoor feeding and resting mosquitoes, and is not effective against vectors that feed and rest outdoors such as Anopheles arabiensis, which is a major contributor to outdoor transmission in South Africa’s malaria-affected provinces. One of the supplementary methods being explored is the use of the sterile insect technique (SIT). This works like birth control to suppress mosquito populations and reduce the spread of malaria. The technique involves the mass-rearing and sterilisation of male mosquitoes before they are released in the wild.

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