An Aedes aegypti mosquitoe that can spread dengue, Zika and chikungunya. Photo: App Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

In an experiment, Australian scientists killed more than 80% of the mosquitoes that spread dengue fever, Zika and chikungunya by using a sterilization technique in locations across north Queensland.

Why it matters: This experiment was conducted as part of a global effort to combat the pest that infects millions with disease each year, and its success offers a potential solution to controlling the spread of deadly illnesses.

How they did it: Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Verily and James Cook University (JCU) bred almost 20 million male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in a laboratory, infecting males with a naturally occurring bacteria that made them sterile.

  • More than three million of the males were later released in trial zones along the Cassowary Coast in Queensland. The sterile male mosquitoes mated with wild females, resulting in eggs that did not hatch.
"The invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito is one of the world’s most dangerous pests, capable of spreading devastating diseases like dengue, Zika and chikungunya and responsible for infecting millions of people with disease around the world each year,"
— CSIRO director of health and biosecurity Rob Grenfell, in a press release.

The process used in the study, known as the Sterile Insect Technique, has existed since the 1950s. However, this is one of the few times it has been successfully used for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Verily, an affiliate of Google parent company Alphabet, developed a mosquito rearing and sex sorting and release technology used in the study.

Editor's note: The text was updated to indicate that this study was not the first to use the SIT technique on Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Go deeper

23 mins ago - Health

How to help save 130,000 lives

People wear face masks outside Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

Nearly 130,000 fewer people will die of COVID-19 this winter if 95% of Americans wear face masks in public, according to research published Friday.

Why it matters: “Increasing mask use is one of the best strategies that we have right now to delay the imposition of social distancing mandates," Dr. Christopher Murray of the University of Washington told the N.Y. Times.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump claims COVID "will go away" during debate.
  2. Sports: The youth sports exodus continues — Big Ten football is back.
  3. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
  4. Retail: Santa won't greet kids at Macy's this year.
  5. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.
5 hours ago - World

Israel and Sudan begin normalization process after call with Trump

Trump announces the news in the Oval Office. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Sudan and Israel announced today that they will “end the state of belligerence” between them and start the process of normalizing ties.

Driving the news: The announcement came after a phone call hosted by President Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and the head of Sudan's governing council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!