Trial to use bacteria-carrying mosquitoes to control population begins next Tuesday

Sara Grosse, Channel NewsAsia 13 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: Braddell Heights will be the first housing estate to have male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes released in public spaces to control the mosquito population in Singapore from next Tuesday (Oct 18).

Other releases at Tampines West and Nee Soon East will take place over the next one month, said the National Environment Agency (NEA).

This is part of a six-month small-scale field study to determine the male mosquitoes' behaviour, with the aim of controlling the mosquito population. These male mosquitoes infected with bacteria called Wolbachia do not bite or transmit diseases. Only female Aedes mosquitoes spread disease, like dengue, by biting humans. It is hoped the male mosquitoes carrying the bacteria mate with female mosquitoes, causing them to lay eggs which do not hatch.

Since the announcement of the study in late August, NEA and grassroots leaders of the three selected study sites have been reaching out to residents.

Residents have had the opportunity to visit the Wolbachia-Aedes mosquito production facility to understand the processes involved in rearing and see the mosquitoes up-close.

Residents from Nee Soon East on Thursday visited the facility in Neythal Road. Demonstrations at the facility included how mosquito eggs hatch, separating male and female pupae and packaging of pupae and adult mosquitoes for release at selected sites.

Residents were also able to experience the release of the male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in a controlled environment.

During the study, an average of one to three mosquitoes per resident will be released regularly in areas such as void decks and stairwells, but not inside homes. The three areas selected for the study have had previous dengue outbreaks and also represent a good cross-section of typical housing estates in Singapore.

- CNA/xk

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