Florida Keys to release modified mosqutioes to fight illness
Sometime next year, genetically modified mosquitoes will be released in the Florida Keys in an effort to combat persistent insect-borne diseases such as Dengue fever and the Zika virus. The plan approved this week by the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District calls for a pilot project in 2021 involving the striped-legged Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is not native to Florida. But it does transmit several diseases to humans, particularly in the Keys island chain where nearly 50 cases of Dengue fever have been reported so far this year. The plan by the Oxitec biotechnology company is to release millions of male, genetically-altered mosquitoes to mate with the females that bite humans because they need the blood. The male mosquitoes, which don’t bite, would contain a genetic change in a protein that would render any female offspring unable to survive — thus reducing the population of the insects that transmit disease, in theory.
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