US to induct drones in fight against Zika

news
14 October 2016

The fight against Zika could soon see the deployment of drones to aidrop sterile mosquitoes among the disease carrying ones to curb their proliferation.

According to Lee County Mosquito Control, the threat of Zika did not end with summer and could continue through the year.

The federal government plans to spend millions on developing ideas, including using drones to stop the spread of the deadly zika virus.

A number of major companies are also aligning with the feds to fight the virus.

Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development would invest $30 million, calling upon global innovators to offer cutting-edge approaches.

"We're certainly working towards being better at controlling these particular mosquitoes," said Wayne Gale, executive director of Lee County Mosquito Control.

Among the ideas suggested are setting human-scented traps and letting loose bacteria-infected mosquitoes that stopped the spread of the disease.

The drones would release sterile mosquitoes in a bid to stop their breeding.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is testing drones to stop the expected flow of Zika-carrying mosquitoes, before they infected people.

"We certainly want to be able to employ the latest and greatest technology," Gale said.

In another development, two groups that are considering  drones deployment to fight Zika won support from the federal government Wednesday.

The funding would help them develop drones that could drop off Zika-fighting mosquitoes or ferry lab samples from remote regions.

Delaware-based WeRobotics would use seed money from USAID to develop drones that capable of carrying sterile mosquitoes into hard-to-reach zones.

Flooding mosquito populations with sterile insects could reduce populations it is believed.

"Usually, when you think about fighting Zika you think of trucks driving up and down and fogging streets," said Taylor, who directs USAID's Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact.

"It might be easier to use a UAV instead of driving up and down small, winding streets with a truck."





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