Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Beating Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya
The use of genetically modified mosquitoes appears to be stemming the spread of dengue in one Brazilian city. A neighbourhood in Piracicaba, in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, has seen a significant drop in dengue fever cases; the number of cases has dropped 91 per cent. There were 12 cases reported in the one-year period, compared to 133 in the previous year.
The decrease came in the first year the “Friendly Aedes” males, produced by British company Oxitec, were released.
According to Piracicaba’s Epidemiologic Surveillance service, the rest of the municipality saw cases cut by 52 per cent during the same period, from 3,487 in the 2014/2015 period to 1,676 in 2015/2016.
The latest data roundup also reports zero cases of two other mosquito-borne viruses, Zika and chikungunya.
Friendly Aedes males don’t bite or transmit diseases. When released, they search for wild females to mate, and their offspring inherit a self-limiting gene that makes them die before reaching adulthood. Friendly Aedes’ offspring also inherit a fluorescent marker that makes them easy to identify in the laboratory. Friendly Aedes die along with their offspring.
“We are delighted with the result achieved so far by Friendly Aedes which shows the potential of our approach. We hope to see this effect on a larger scale with our expansion into Piracicaba’s downtown city,” said Glen Slade, Oxitec do Brasil director.
Friendly Aedes have been used in Piracicaba since April 30, 2015, when the first insects were released in CECAP/Eldorado. The success has resulted in the project being extended for one more year.