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IAEA Helps Member States in Europe Develop Insect Pest Control Protocols

Participants touring the Insect Pest Control Laboratory at the IAEA’s Seibersdorf laboratories. (Photo: E. Dikoli/Albanian Institute of Public Health)

The spread of invasive mosquito species within Europe has increased substantially since the late 1990s, due to the growing impact of climate change. This expansion is associated with public health risks, which has led both the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) to stress the urgent need for European countries to implement active surveillance and control strategies. [1]

Growing concerns on health and environment impact of extensive insecticide use has boosted demand for more sustainable pest management measures. As part of a three-year (2016-2019) regional technical cooperation project[2], the IAEA, in close cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is working with its European Member States to promote the transfer and application of the environmentally-friendly sterile insect technique (SIT) against invasive mosquito species. The project supports cooperation and networking among European countries already affected, or at high risk of being affected, by invasive disease-transmitting mosquito species, and is introducing or strengthening capacity to manage genetic control methods (area-wide SIT) through pilot suppression programmes

From 12 to 14 February 2018, a meeting on harmonizing irradiation and dosimetry protocols for Aedes invasive mosquitoes for the Europe region was held at IAEA headquarters in Vienna. International SIT experts from Italy, France, Brazil, the United States of America and Japan presented a series of irradiation and protocols and, together with experts from Albania, Greece, Montenegro and Serbia, discussed results from induced sterility and mass rearing activities in their home countries. Participants also visited the IAEA’s nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria, where technical staff demonstrated irradiation protocols and dosimetry procedures used to assess irradiation doses.

During the meeting, the experts discussed a preliminary harmonized irradiation protocol for pilot SIT suppression programmes in Albania, Greece, Montenegro and Serbia. The protocol is expected to be finalized by autumn 2018.   

According to Dr. Romeo Bellini (Director – Department of Medical and Veterinary Entomology, Centro Agricoltura Ambiente “G. Nicoli”), “This [meeting] was a great opportunity for us not only to analyse and discuss issues related to irradiation protocols for mosquitoes, but also to clarify and better understand results of induced sterility and competitiveness seen in the laboratory, in semi-field and in field condition of sterile male mosquitoes. By sharing this information, we hope to achieve better harmonization and standardization of irradiation protocols across all regions and to prepare for the quick suppression of mosquito populations in case of epidemics."

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[1] Global Vector Control Response 2017-2030, WHO

[2] RER5022 ‘Establishing Genetic Control Programmes for Aedes Invasive Mosquitoes’. Components of this project are funded through the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Fund and contributions from Japan to the IAEA’s Peaceful Uses Initiative.

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