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Just two public comments received online regarding mosquito project

Only two public comments have been received by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the University of Kentucky’s Department of Entomology request for an experimental use permit (EUP) for “the microbial Wolbachia pipientis, an intracellular bacterial pesticide of insects/mosquitoes” project in American Samoa.

The close of business yesterday was the deadline for submission of comments on the federal site, website which shows that two public comments were received as of yesterday afternoon.

One comment was submitted by Michael Marsik of Tafuna, who says that the “Sterile Male Technique is a proactive refreshing approach to management of the vector that carries filariasis, with potential positive consequences for malaria, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus & dengue control.”

“I wonder about the insecticide resistance that may occur in infected mosquitoes. I wish much success to this program,” said Marsik.

The other one came from an anonymous person, who said: “I am NOT in support for this study. We don't have a problem with filiarisis anymore. Why don't you do your experiment in India? How long has it been for your study in other places? What are the affects to humans 20 years down the line — directly and indirectly? [sic]”.

Kentucky University professor Dr. Chike Anyaegbunam told Samoa News last month that the purpose of this project is  to “provide a new tool to American Samoa and other Pacific Island nations: a tool against Aedes polynesiensis, which is an important biting mosquito and disease vector.”

“Currently, there are no effective methods to control this mosquito, and this mosquito transmits disease agents responsible for lymphatic filariasis and dengue,” the professor stated.

In brief, “the project would be to release many male Aedes polynesiensis mosquitoes, which carry a bacterium that kill their offspring,” the university explained. “If enough of the mosquito offspring do not hatch, this population will decline, providing a way to reduce and eliminate Aedes polynesiensis.”

“Both the mosquito and bacterium are in American Samoa already, so there would be no introduction of foreign organisms. And importantly, male mosquitoes do not bite or transmit disease,” it says.

With EPA approval of the EUP application “we look to the local American Samoa community, including leaders and regulators, for the ‘go ahead’ to proceed,” according to the professor, who added that they have worked with several villages in American Samoa, including Aunu’u, Fagamalo, Leone, Onenoa and Tafuna.

“At the moment, we are awaiting instructions from local leaders and regulators. They will tell us whether to proceed and where to begin the mosquito control work.”

See Samoa News edition of May 15, 2012 for more information on this project.