New Weapon to Fight Zika: The Mosquito

New Weapon to Fight Zika: The Mosquito

By ANDREW POLLACKJAN. 30, 2016

zika

Separating male and female mosquito larvae at Oxitec, a biotech company that is releasing genetically modified male mosquitoes into Piracicaba, Brazil, to fight diseases like dengue and Zika. Credit Cristiano Burmester for The New York Times

Every weekday at 7 a.m., a van drives slowly through the southeastern Brazilian city of Piracicaba carrying a precious cargo — mosquitoes. More than 100,000 of them are dumped from plastic containers out the van’s window, and they fly off to find mates.

But these are not ordinary mosquitoes. They have been genetically engineered to pass a lethal gene to their offspring, which die before they can reach adulthood. In small tests, this approach has lowered mosquito populations by 80 percent or more. Read more.