Aedes female mosquitoes spread disease by transferring the virus when they bite people to obtain the bloodmeal for the nutrition of their offspring. As there are no vaccines for dengue or chikungunya, people can only protect themselves by preventing themselves from being bitten – using repellents or physical barriers like clothing – or by killing the mosquitoes.
Aedes mosquito control today relies on mechanical breeding-site reduction, public education and chemical insecticides, including larvicides and adulticides as space sprays, fogs and indoor residual sprays. The insecticide-treated bednets (ITNs) that are used to protect people against the night-biting Anopheles mosquitoes are ineffective against the day-biting Aedes mosquitoes. Because of the huge diversity of breeding sites Aedes mosquitoes use, it is impossible for human vector-control professionals to identify and treat every breeding site and even intensive spray programs are not effective in reducing mosquito populations to levels below which dengue transmission occurs. The increase in insecticide resistance is making the problem worse.
Oxitec’s innovative approach harnesses the natural instinct of the male mosquito to seek out females. We have developed Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus strains for both Asia and the Americas to help protect communities from dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever.