Ge­net­i­cally Mod­i­fied Mos­qui­toes Beat­ing Dengue, Zika and Chikun­gunya

The Star (St. Lucia) - - HEALTH - ZIKA -

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.

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