MSU receives $1 million grant for fight against Zika virus

(AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan, File)

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University has received a $1 million grant that will go towards the fight against the Zika virus.

The money comes from a grant program from the United States Agency for International Development, and will go towards building a facility in Mexico which MSU scientists refer to a “mosquito factory.”

The factory will breed millions of mosquitoes and release them into the wild.

Males bred at the facility will be infected with bacteria that is harmless to humans, but will sterilize any female mosquitoes they mate with. Females bred at the facilities will be infected with a different bacteria that makes them less likely to carry viruses like Zika.

The scientists summed up the project as breeding “good” mosquitoes to help the fight “bad” mosquitoes.

Zhiyong Xi, MSU associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, is in charge of the program, and co-leads a similar facility in Guangzhou, China.

Field tests in China found this method reduced mosquito populations by as much as 90%.

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