Last October, we announced the Debug Project, an initiative at Verily to reduce the devastating global health impact that disease-carrying mosquitoes inflict on people around the world. Today, I’m happy to announce the launch of Debug Fresno, our first field study in the U.S. to test a potential mosquito control method using sterile insect technique in collaboration with MosquitoMate and Fresno County’s Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District (CMAD).
Debug Fresno will target the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can transmit diseases like Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. Aedes aegypti first appeared in the central valley of California in 2013, and since then has become pervasive in Fresno County. This study will be the largest U.S. release to-date of sterile male mosquitoes treated with Wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacterium, and will take place over a 20 week period in two neighborhoods each approximately 300 acres in size. When these sterile males mate with wild females the resulting eggs will not hatch. To measure our outcomes, we will compare the adult population density and egg hatching of Aedes aegypti in these targeted areas to two control neighborhoods. Over time, we hope to see a steep decline in the presence of Aedes aegypti in these communities.<!–more–>