Updated 24/08/20

February 2019 - March 2021

Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion

Context

With around 800,000 deaths per year, mosquitoes are the deadliest animals in the world. That’s because of the pathologies they carry, including malaria, dengue, chikungunya, and since the last decade the Zika virus. The islands of the Indian Ocean and neighbouring countries are not spared, several mosquito species being established there due to good conditions for their development. The omnipresence of the "tiger" mosquito Aedes albopictus and its close cousin Aedes aegypti, two vectors of the viruses of chikungunya, dengue and Zika, maintains a high level of risk of emergence of these arboviroses.

At the same time, apart from yellow fever - viral haemorrhagic disease also carried by Aedes sp. (Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus), against which there is a preventive vaccine developed in the 1940s - the fight against diseases such as dengue and chikungunya is mainly based on prevention, targeting vectors. The control methods used, both physical (control and elimination of breeding sites) and chemical based on the use of insecticide products for which mosquitoes develop more and more resistance, are likely to lead to other threats to health and the environment.

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© Nil Rahola

Tiger mosquitoe.

Motivated by the need to reduce reliance on insecticides, many countries have expressed a strong interest in alternative vector management strategies. In recent years, research has focused on the development of complementary and integrated strategies to overcome the limitations of traditional control methods. Among the methods considered, the Sterile Insect Technique (TIS), inherited from the one developed in the 1950s to effectively control insect pests in the agricultural and veterinary sectors, is the best option. Sterilized by gamma or X-rays, mass-reared males are then released in the nature in millions to induce sterility in the wild populations of targeted insects. Mating a wild female to a sterile male will produce eggs that will not hatch (non viable). Thus, the population of wild insects will gradually decrease.

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Although the interest of TIS, as an ecological approach for vector control programs, is widely accepted, there are many challenges to its implementation. The planning and operational implementation of the TIS strategy must be primarily based on scientific evidence. In fact, the first step in setting up TIS in the vector mosquito removal strategy is to generate new knowledge and tools based on applied research.

Main objectives

This project has the objective to evaluate, through a multi-scale approach, the possibility of implementing TIS in the Indian Ocean countries and the challenges its implementation may face in different geographical contexts. The specific objectives are:

  • To consolidate the cooperation between the participating countries in the creation of a strategic partnership and support for the development of the TIS adapted to the national context.
  • To research entomological indicators of feasibility of TIS in partner countries of the Indian Ocean
  • To share knowledge and technical capacity building in the field
  • To mobilize and enhance social acceptance around the project
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© IRD - Thibaut Vergoz

Experiments on mosquitoes in La Réunion.

Main actors and partners

 

Funding

INTERREG (Region / State / EU)