"Bugs are awesome!"
Cátia Cabral’s passion for insects is one she can indulge every day in her work for WMP Brazil. She literally wears her heart on her sleeve, adorned with the tattoos of a kissing bug (Triatoma sherlocki) and an Aedes aegypti mosquito.
“Insects are sensational. I look at their biodiversity and this is a great passion for me. When I look at all the classes and orders of these animals, I find it very fascinating!"
As entomology supervisor, part of Cátia’s responsibility is the breeding and feeding of mosquitoes. In order to deploy our mosquitoes into the wild population, colonies carrying the Wolbachia bacteria are bred in a purpose built lab before their release. As they grow and reproduce, they need to be fed. And for hungry Aedes aegypti, human blood is the most popular item on the menu.
Unsurprisingly, breeding and feeding is the part of Cátia’s job she loves the most.
Cátia’s passion for biology started in high school when she took a clinical analysis course and worked at a laboratory for the first time. She initially thought she would go to medical school, but she soon realized she had a unique love for biology.
Cátia sees studying insects as a huge opportunity to discover new diseases and their treatment. Working as a biologist with WMP Brazil since 2014, she believes the Wolbachia Method should expand throughout the country. Projects in Rio de Janeiro and Niteró already cover a population of over a million people. While plans to release in Belo Horizonte and Campo Grand are underway. The self-sustaining nature of the intervention – as Wolbachia is passed from each mosquito generation to the next – offers an exciting prospect for disease prevention in Brazil and to people like Cátia who dedicate their working lives to it.
"With the continued expansion of the project,” Cátia says, “it would be such a great thing for me to be able to say in the future that I was part of the team which eradicated dengue from Brazil."