>> The Zika epidemic that began in Brazil in 2015 causing birth defects in thousands of babies, has prompted US tech companies to develop tools to track and kill disease carrying mosquitoes. Microsoft and Google are just two companies taking up the cause. They're creating partnerships with local public health officials in the US to test new high tech tools to control the pests as mosquito season ramps up from coast to coast.
In Texas, mosquito traps made by Microsoft are being tested in back yards in the Houston area. The traps are helping health officials catch, test and monitor local bugs for signs of Zika and other diseases. Other firms are experimenting with releasing genetically sterilized male mosquitoes into the wild. Males don't bite.
When the sterile ones meet with the females, the eggs never hatch and populations plummet. Verily, a division of alphabet Google's parent company is helping in this effort by experimenting with robot technology that separates male and female mosquitoes. The project called Debug, could be tested as soon as this summer in Fresno, California.
Though most of them, more than 5,000 Zika cases in the US have been contracted by people who have traveled outside of the country where Zika is prevalent, the urgency to combat the insect is growing as Zika carrying mosquitoes extend their range in the Southern US.