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Professional entomologist supports field evaluation in Pago Pago

Comments by S.T. Jaronski, a professional entomologist, with training in medical entomology, specifically as an insect pathologist, supports the University of Kentucky’s Department of Entomology request to the US EPA  for an experimental use permit (EUP) for “the microbial Wolbachia pipientis, an intracellular bacterial pesticide of insects/mosquitoes” project in American Samoa.

Jaronski made clear his comments are not to be construed as any official position of US Department of Agriculture, for which he works.  The deadline to submit comments was last Friday.

“...I personally am in favor of this field evaluation. Aedes polynesiensis is an important vector of filariasis, a significant human pathogen,” he said. “Use of Wolbachia to induce conditional sterility in the mosquito vector is a novel and environmentally benign approach, certainly much more benign for human and environmental health than the chemical insecticides currently in use.”

“The proposed test is to be conducted in an area well isolated from the US and for that matter, other land masses, and the target population is of limited size, he said. “Production of infected males is on American Samoa, not in the continental US further ensuring isolation.”

“The applicant's preliminary data indicates a reasonable chance of successful suppression, but if not, based on what is known about Wolbachia, the chance that it would spread, esp. uncontrollably, is minimal, and would in any case be restricted to Aedes,” he said.

“Successful suppression would provide support for greater development of this approach against other mosquito species. I therefore personally support the proposed study,” he said.

(See Samoa News stories on June 8 and May 15 for more details on this project and read comments on website.)