US government approves 'killer' mosquitoes to fight disease
The lab-grown mosquitoes developed by MosquitoMate seek to eliminate the disease-carrying Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus, shown here).
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the use of a common bacterium to kill wild mosquitoes that transmit viruses such as dengue, yellow fever and Zika, Nature’s news team has learned.
On 3 November, the agency told biotechnology start-up MosquitoMate that it could release the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis into the environment as a tool against the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Lab-reared mosquitoes will deliver the bacterium to wild mosquito populations.
The decision — which the EPA has not formally announced — allows the company, which is based in Lexington, Kentucky, to release the bacteria-infected mosquitoes in 20 US states and Washington DC.