Meet The Woman Fighting Zika By Dumping Thousands Of Mutant Mosquitoes Out Of A Van

By Dan Vergano, February 24, 2016, BuzzFeed News

One early morning in February, Cecilia Kosmann hopped in a big gray van loaded with 245,000 mutant male mosquitos and began her daily ride around this sleepy district.

Every 150 feet or so, on streets of tile-roofed, single-story homes, she would grab one of the van’s hundreds of plastic buckets, each filled with 1,000 of the special insects, rip off the lid, and thrust the container into a tube attached to the van’s side window. Then she’d shake the container to usher the bugs out.

A few bugs inevitably backed up into the van, buzzing in ears and catching in hair. (Fortunately, male mosquitoes don’t bite.) By the sixth bucket, two of the bugs flew into her mouth, and she swallowed them.

When someone pointed it out to her, she shrugged. “They get everywhere.”

Riding around in a truck filled with genetically altered mosquitoes is a normal day for Kosmann, an entomologist who has been following this monotonous routine for the past 10 months. “It’s a life dream,” she joked.

Once freed, the mosquitoes fly, mate, pass on a lethal gene to their offspring, and finally die — fast. They were genetically engineered by Kosmann’s company, the British biotech firm Oxitec, to die after about four days, far sooner than the month-ish lifespan of a wild mosquito.

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