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American technology companies are bringing automation and robotics to the age-old task of battling mosquitoes in a bid to halt the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne maladies worldwide.While cases there have slowed markedly, mosquitoes capable of carrying the virus – Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus – are spreading in the Americas, including large swaths of the southern United States.The vast majority of the 5,365 Zika cases reported in the United States so far are from travelers who contracted the virus elsewhere. Still, two states – Texas and Florida – have recorded cases transmitted by local mosquitoes, making them prime testing grounds for new technology.Texas recorded six cases of local mosquito transmission of Zika in November and December of last year.The Houston tests, begun last summer, showed the traps could detect Aedes aegypti and other medically important mosquitoes with 85 percent accuracy, Jackson said.Other companies, meanwhile, are developing technology to shrink mosquito populations by rendering male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes sterile.At MosquitoMate's labs in Lexington, immature mosquitoes are forced through a sievelike mechanism that separates the smaller males from the females.The company is automating mosquito-sorting with robots to make it faster and more affordable.
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