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Genetically modified mosquitos to fight Zika in Miami

mosquito 1332382 640 - Genetically modified mosquitos to fight Zika in Miami

The FDA approves the plan to erase the Zika virus

What to do when dealing with a dangerous virus and with a related untreatable illness?

A collaboration between Oxitec, a biotech company and the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) is trying to answer this question by initiating a project.  The plan is to release genetically engineered mosquitoes, more exactly, genetically modified Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes, the type that normally could carry and transmit dangerous diseases, including Zika. According to the project, the modified mosquito males will mate with the biting and disease carrying mosquito females, resulting a reduction of the total population of Aedes aegypti by passing a gene to their offspring which will cause their death before they are reaching adulthood.

Naturally, every time we hear the concept of genetically modified, we tend to reject any idea that supports it and there are some local, state and federal agencies who oppose this project. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared that this action won't have any harmful environmental impact and more than that, Oxitec stated that the level of chemical insecticides will be reduced, creating a safer environment for bees, butterflies or other friendly insect species.

The beginning of the experimental trial will be voted in November by the members of the FKMCD. If approved the trial will be hold on Key Haven, an island in the Florida Keys and will last between 6 and 22 months. The first step will consist in observing if the wild mosquito females will mate with the modified males.

Mosquito control is the key in fighting the Zika virus and could prevent a lot of terrible illness like microcephaly in newborns and other fetal brain defects. Since the outbreak, Florida officials reported 15 Zika infections  in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami.

Do you agree with these measures?

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