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PLOS Current Outbreaks, 30 January 2017

Laith Yakob, Sebastian Funk, Anton Camacho, Oliver Brady, W. John Edmunds
Introduction: In the context of the ongoing, unprecedented Zika virus outbreak in the Americas, the World Health Organization has expressed its support for developing and up-scaling three novel approaches to controlling the Aedes aegypti mosquito: the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), the Release of Insects carrying Dominant Lethal genes (RIDL) and the release of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes. Whereas the former two approaches are temporary insect population suppression strategies, Wolbachia infection is a self-sustaining, invasive strategy that uses inherited endosymbiotic bacteria to render natural mosquito populations arbovirus resistant. Methods: A mathematical model is parameterised with new, Brazilian field data informing the mating competitiveness of mass-reared, released insects; and simulations compare and contrast projections of vector control achieved with the alternative approaches. Results: Important disadvantages of Wolbachia and SIT are identified: both strategies result in mosquitoes ovipositing non-viable eggs and, by alleviating intense larval competition, can cause an overall increase in survival to the adult stage. However, it is demonstrated that strategically combining the suppression methods with Wolbachia can generate a sustained control while mitigating the risks of inadvertent exacerbation of the wild mosquito population. Discussion: This initial analysis demonstrates potential for good synergy when combining novel mosquito approaches in a modernized, integrated vector control programme.