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Zika

James Gathany, via Wikimedia Commons

Debug Fresno is a pilot project aimed at developing a technique to control a nasty species of invasive mosquito known as Aedes aegypti. It involves releasing millions of mosquitoes infected with wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacteria, in three test areas in Fresno and Clovis. It may seem like a paradox, but the ultimate goal is to reduce the overall A. aegypti population, and techniques like this have succeeded in other parts of the world.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Summer is approaching in the San Joaquin Valley, and that means it’s not only the season for sunscreen and paletas, but also mosquitoes—something local authorities are working on. For the last two years, the Fresno area has been the site of an experimental mosquito control program. And it’s back again. Here we examine the project’s latest, scaled-up season, and why it appears to be working.

Last week it made national headlines: a company with ties to Google is releasing 20 million mosquitoes in Fresno. It might sound like a bad idea, but it's actually part of an innovative plan called "Debug Fresno" that aims to stop the local spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can spread dengue fever and the zika virus.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

There are a lot of the type of mosquito that could carry the Zika virus in Fresno County. Crews are currently working to stop the spread of the mosquito across the region. But as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports there’s just not enough funding at the moment to do research on a large scale.

As Katherine Brisco blows into a six-inch cardboard tube she’s releasing male mosquitos in the middle of a suburban Clovis neighborhood park. She says the males don’t bite.

“They’ll be all over you, but they won’t bite you,” says Brisco with Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District. 

Fresno County Department of Public Health

Zika has finally appeared in Fresno County. An adult woman tested positive for the virus after traveling internationally and developing flu-like symptoms. Health officials won’t reveal where she traveled.

Fifty-five cases of Zika have been reported in California since January of last year, out of almost a thousand nationally. None are believed to have been transmitted locally, though some were spread through sexual contact.

frankieleon/Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

This week on Valley Edition Fresno Bee Reporter Barbara Anderson joined VE Host Joe Moore to talk about Zika virus. Anderson  recently wrote several pieces about how Central California residents are worried that the virus could spread in communities like Clovis unless spraying is successful. 

To listen to interview click play above.