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MRCU and Oxitec sign new agreement: Roll out starts next week

Government signs a new contract with biotechnology company, Oxitec. The new contract was announced Tuesday (22 May) evening and officials say it’s focusing on the evaluation of integrated mosquito management techniques to control the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

Cayman 27 Jevauhgnie Ebanks caught up with the Mosquito Research and Control Unit’s (MRCU) new director Dr. Jim McNelly on this new leg of the project.

A new programme is planned for the southwestern area of West Bay, but new MRCU director Jim McNelly said this is just a trial phase.

“They have a product that we are looking at in terms of whether in fact, it’s a useful tool and whether it can be implemented in our toolkit,” said Dr. McNelly.

The project area will be the same location government and Oxitec previously collaborated on releasing friendly mosquitoes- that’s non-biting, genetically modified, male mosquitoes. Dr. McNelly said this new project will cost just over a $.5 million, but that could change.

“We determine a price which would probably be different than any of the pricing and expense associated with this project now and again determine from a managerial perspective at that point which would be justified by a scientific perspective whether or not that too fits in our toolkit,” said Dr. McNelly.

He said Oxtiec was chosen simply because they are the only provider, but stresses this is not the only the weapon in the fight.

“To throw a tool out here at any given point whether its Oxitec or a fog truck or an airplane or water management, we don’t do that. Those are silver bullet type ways of going about something. What we want to do is to integrate all these potential tools into a programme, in this case, to be directed at Aedes Aegypti.

Dr. McNelly said that his team is going to door to door to inform the public ahead of the release. This new addition to the programme is expected to start as early as next week.

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Jevaughnie Ebanks

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