BY MEGAN KELLER
Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. is working to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases around the world, starting with Fresno, California.
Verily Life Sciences, a unit of Alphabet, is releasing swarms of male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with a common bacterium that will cause their offspring to never hatch into Fresno, Bloomberg reports.
If the company’s efforts to eradicate mosquitos in Fresno go well, the company plans to take the operation to places where such mosquitoes spread dengue fever and other diseases that kill tens of thousands every year, according to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg writes that it is unclear what will happen if the mosquitoes are wiped out worldwide, though some scientists say they are unnecessary to the larger ecosystem.
In Fresno, they are an invasive species that arrived in 2013.
“After we detected it, we did a massive and extensive effort to prevent the mosquito from establishing and eliminate it,” Jodi Holeman, the scientific services director for Fresno County’s Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District told Bloomberg. “We were not successful, in any way, shape, or form.”
Verily’s infected mosquitos could be the solution to the insect invasion. Bloomberg reports that its program has cut the A. aegypti population by 95 percent this year.
A second project has been launched in Innisfail Australia that had reduced the mosquito population by 80 percent when the program ended in June.