Genetically modified mosquitoes released to cull population

R. Goodall,  The Boar,  2022.

Mosquito numbers are on the rise in the USA, largely down to the warming climate – and as they spread, the risk of disease spreads with them. But scientists have come up with an interesting approach to solving this problem, involving bioengineering. An experiment has been underway since April 2021 in the Florida Keys, with biotechnology firm Oxitec releasing nearly five million engineered mosquitoes – it has now concluded, and the results are currently looking positive. Is this a potentially viable way to deal with virus-carrying mosquitoes? California was not historically home to the mosquito species Aedes aegypti (it traditionally thrived in the Gulf states), but it has established itself in recent years. It almost certainly travelled to California in cargo, and it has now colonised places like Los Angeles County. As the climate continuously warms, the mosquitoes are expected to multiply and spread in these temperate regions, and this brings the potential for disease outbreaks – the females bite for blood meals, but can also spread diseases like dengue fever, yellow fever, and Zika in the process. This mosquito study is designed to curb the threat of mosquitoes, and intended to prove that Aedes aegypti populations can be repressed by modifying the animals.


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