Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Released into the WildNews Flash Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
Australian research scientists have developed a strategy for fighting Dengue fever, a viral disease spread by mosquitoes that affects more than 50 million people annually and causes fever and crippling joint and muscle pain—and in some cases even death.
Dengue kills FAR more people worldwide than influenza, yet it is rarely even mentioned by Western media.
A bacterium named Wolbachiapipientis naturally infects many insect species and has the ability to interfere with its host’s reproductive ability in such a way that entire populations become infected within just a few generationsi. When Wolbachia infects mosquitoes, the mosquitoes’ ability to transmit Dengue virus is almost completely blocked.
Researchers are encouraged that these bacterially infected mosquitoes are safe to humans and, once set loose, are capable of spreading on their own and overtaking the wild mosquito populations that transmit disease to humans.
In two northern Australian towns, between 10,000 and 20,000 of these infected mozzies were released (“mozzie” is Australian for mosquito), and wild mosquito infection rates neared 100 percent—meaning, mosquitoes that can infect humans were almost completely replaced by the ones that can’t.
This approach is a change from the swarms of genetically engineered mosquitoes being bred by companies like Oxitec, a British biotechnology company that has released millions of mutant mosquitoes into the fields of unsuspecting Australians.