Genetically engineered mosquito that fights Aedes aegypti achieves high approval rate among residents of city where it is applied
Piracicaba, Brazil, 30th November 2016 – A new survey conducted in November shows the use of Friendly™ Aedes, the genetically engineered mosquito that fights Aedes aegypti, is now supported by 92.8% of the population in Piracicaba city, Brazil. The public support for Oxitec’s vector control solution has consistently grown as residents in this area continue to realize the benefits of the product.
“The growing popularity of Friendly™ Aedes in Piracicaba reflects the diligent work of public health agents and of Oxitec’s team to explain what our mosquito is and how it works”, said Glen Slade, director of Oxitec do Brasil, the company that produces Friendly™ Aedes. “This high rate of approval is also a consequence of the benefits this solution brings to the people in Piracicaba including the population reduction of wild Aedes aegypti and a significant drop in dengue fever cases as reported by Piracicaba’s Epidemiologic Surveillance service in July 2016.”
The survey, designed by the CW7 Market Research Institute, was conducted between November 1st and 7th, 2016, and approached 1,200 city residents older than 16. The margin of error is 2.8% (added or subtracted) and the confidence interval is 95%. The November 2016 figure of 92.8% is an improvement from the 88.3% level of acceptance measured in June 2016.
Since the project’s debut in CECAP/Eldorado in April 2015, CW7 opinion polls also show that awareness of the project among Piracicaba’s residents has increased throughout the city from 80.3% to 97.6%.
Oxitec has worked diligently in conjunction with the Health Secretariat of Piracicaba to communicate the details and benefits of the project to the public. As the project has expanded from a single neighborhood to encompass the larger central region of Piracicaba, which has 60,000 residents, the communication tools used to build awareness and support for the Friendly™ Aedes Project have included newspapers, billboards, bus door posters, radio spots and an information kiosk at Piracicaba’s largest shopping mall.
“The survey shows convincingly that our community engagement activities have been extremely effective. I am thrilled with both the population’s awareness of the technology and their support for Friendly™ Aedes”, said Guilherme Trivellato, Oxitec’s field work coordinator.
How Friendly™ Aedes works
Oxitec has been working in Aedes aegypti control for more than a decade. It is a pioneer in the use of a biological method to suppress wild populations of this dangerous mosquito species through the release of Friendly™ Aedes males, which don’t bite and don’t transmit disease. When released, these males search for wild females to mate, and their offspring inherit a self-limiting gene that makes them die before reaching adulthood. Friendly™ Aedes’ offspring also inherit a fluorescent marker that makes them easy to identify in the laboratory. This allows tracking and measuring at a level never before achieved, making effectiveness assessment and monitoring more accurate throughout the whole Friendly™ Aedes deployment programme.
Unlike other approaches, Friendly™ Aedes mosquitoes don’t leave any ecological footprint. Friendly™ Aedes die along with their offspring, so that their presence doesn’t persist in the environment.
Oxitec is a pioneer in using genetic engineering to control insect pests that spread disease and damage crops, and was founded in 2002 as a spinout from Oxford University (UK). Oxitec is a subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), which engineers biology to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Follow us on Twitter at @Oxitec.
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