Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Sarah Storkin
Observer Staff Writer 

Eliminating the Mosquito is Technically Possible: Why Not Just Do It?

Aedes Aegypti is the one Mosquito Species Responsible for so much human misery.

 

August 23, 2016

Why Not Eradicate Forever the one Mosquito Species Responsible for so much human misery? It's hard to come up with a compelling environmental reason not to just eradicate Aedes Aegypti forever.

Thousands of species feed on the blood of various kinds of hosts, mainly vertebrates, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and even some kinds of fish. Some mosquitoes also attack invertebrates, mainly arthropods.

Though the loss of blood is seldom of any importance to the victim, the saliva of the mosquito often causes an irritating rash that is a serious nuisance. Much more serious though, are the roles of many species of mosquitoes as vectors of diseases. In passing from host to host, some transmit extremely harmful infections such as malaria, yellow fever, Chikungunya, West Nile virus, dengue fever, filariasis, Zika virus and other arboviruses, rendering it the deadliest animal family in the world. So why don't we just get rid of the critters?

One British company has the answer: Release millions of genetically-modified mosquitoes, and eliminate the mosquito through sex. This would eliminate the species of mosquito that bites us, transmitting disease vectors such as Zika.

Oxiter predicts no environmental damage release genetically engineered mosquitoes into areas where the Aedes aegypti mosquito species is known to live.

Why Not Eradicate Forever the one Mosquito Species Responsible for so much human misery? It's hard to come up with a compelling environmental reason not to just eradicate Aedes Aegypti forever.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has greenlit a field trial for the Oxitec mosquito in Monroe County, Florida. The FDA on August 13 released a "Finding of No Significant Impact" and "Final Environmental Assessment." This is the final step for mosquito breeder Oxitec. If they pass, any municipality or state can buy the bugs.

Monroe County will hold a local non-binding vote on the field trial in November before begins its trial with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.

Why Not Eradicate Forever the one Mosquito Species Responsible for so much human misery? It's hard to come up with a compelling environmental reason not to just eradicate Aedes Aegypti forever.

Oxitec is a subsidiary of Intrexon. The Oxitec mosquito contains a "self-limiting" gene that causes any offspring it has to die. Oxitec releases genetically engineered male mosquitoes into the wild to mate with wild female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, they breed. Note that male mosquitos don't bite people. Their offspring die before reaching adulthood.

One insect species is reponsible for malaria, Dengue Fever, Zika. It is doubtful that any species of bird or bat feeds so much on Aedes Aegypti that they would be threatened by the mosquito species' elimination from the environment.

Zika Virus has spread rapidly throughout Central and South American countries, such as Brazil and Puerto Rico. It is not know to be present in Miami Florida, where there are 2 exclusion zones. There are some reports of local transmission of Zika in Orange County, California.

Florida has asked for assistance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Director Tom Frieden says pregnant women all over the South should protect themselves against mosquito bites because of the risk of Zika.

 
 

Reader Comments
(1)

D2men writes:

Thank you for your informed article. This solution seems to be better than spraying pesticides everywhere ( or possibly until there is a vaccine -but even that has risks). Fearmongers in Key West have focused on the words/letters GMO to try to block the release and not on the fact that these mosquitoes have been found safe by the FDA, don't bite ( it's just that the offspring don't survive to bite and spread Zika, etc) and only work to eliminate this one type of mosquito. I hope rationale heads prevail in the South Florida referendum in November. Hopefully the voters are provided enough educational background to vote for the mosquito vector control.

 
 
 

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