Genetically modified Mosquitoes – Ready for Release

genetically modified mosquitoes

Dengue fever a debilitating disease that strikes a 100 million people worldwide every year. Symptoms of this disease include high fever, severe headaches joint and muscle pain among others. It is not a pleasant experience to be sure. The disease are transmitted by mosquitoes that carry the virus that cause the disease. The disease is widespread in areas that have tropical climates, this include southern Florida, parts of Asia, Mexico and Africa among others.

Release the Kraken! Brazil unleashes Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

The biotech company Oxitec are set to open a factory in Brazil that will raise millions of genetically modified mosquitoes that will be released into the wild. No this is not a super villain plan to take control of Brazil and turn it into a modern day legion of doom. The genetically modified mosquitoes are being bred for a specific purpose, to stop the spread of dengue fever.

After release the male mosquitoes will mate with wild female mosquitoes and the offspring produced will die off before adulthood severely reducing the mosquito population. The concept of modified mosquitoes has been tested last year in Jacobina where the release led to a drop in mosquito eggs by an astounding 92%. The subsequent drop in dengue fever has not yet been observed. This drop will hopefully show in the next wide release of these genetically modified mosquitoes.

Always interesting to see unique methods of trying to control the spread of these tropical diseases. Though it’s a little worrying that there wasn’t a drop in dengue fever after the first test release. The researchers suggests that the release was to small to have an effect. If this proves successful this type of approach opens up interesting approaches to Malaria, West Nile and Yellow fever diseases that are also transmitted by mosquitoes.

Image credit: James Jordan via flickr.com, CC BY-ND 2.0.