October 26, 2016
Zika’s Worst Enemy: A Take-Out Box Full Of Bacteria
The solution to the Zika epidemic looks like it may come in a Chinese take-out box, or at least that’s what Australian entomologist Scott O’Neill and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates are calling it. O’Neill and his team believe that Wolbachia, the bacteria that sounds like a small fuzzy creature from Star Wars, inhibits a mosquito’s ability to transmit the Zika virus. In order to infect the mosquitoes with the bacteria, his team is transporting “Chinese noodle boxes” – the scientists’ description, not ours – to parts of Brazil and Colombia. The boxes contain “good” mosquitoes and dried mosquito eggs that will grow to replace the “bad” mosquitoes. This wacky strategy taken from the Trojan War will have people growing mosquitoes out of a takeout box in their backyard. If you’ve ever had sea monkeys as a child it’s a bit like that – the only difference is this effort has been funded with $18 million from the Wellcome Trust.
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