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Re-engineering Mosquitoes To Fight Dengue

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Any guesses on who’s the most dangerous animal in the world?

It’s not sharks, lions or tigers….

It’s MOSQUITOES!!

Mosquitoes have killed more human beings than wars  in this century. Don’t you think with all our advances in science (we’ve been to space, want to colonize MARS!) but do not have a definite cure for Dengue Fever yet even though it’s been in the public eye for over 50 years!

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), Dengue Fever affects between 50 to 100 million people a year which is equivalent to the population of an entire developed country. The scariest part is how Dengue has grown thirty fold with the worst cases in the Caribbean, Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and many more. Chances are you are either a resident or have been to one of these countries on a holiday. Fact is, it doesn’t matter. It’s the same mosquito, and it’s the same Dengue Fever. You’re at risk no matter what you do. Let’s assume you’re bitten by a mosquito that’s carrying the disease. Firstly, you will develop flu-like symptoms which could be quite mild. Next you will develop nausea, headache, your muscles could feel like they’re contracting, and you could actually feel like your bones are at a breaking point. And that’s the nickname given to Dengue. It’s called break-bone fever, because that’s how you can feel when affected with it.

So how is it spreading? The answer is  Aedes aegypti, a native of North Africa. A mosquito will only travel about a kilometre in it’s entire life but will not hesitate to take a lift to see the world. They will lay their eggs in clear water, any pool, any puddle, any birdbath, any flower pot, anywhere there’s clear water, they’ll lay their eggs, and if that clear water is near freight, it’s near a port, if it’s anywhere near transport, those eggs will then get transported around the world. And that’s what’s happened. We have transported these eggs all the way around the world, and these insects have infested over 50 countries in a span of over half a century. Once you’ve got the mosquito in your country, a mosquito will bite someone, then another and another, and you’ll get an epidemic within no time.

Killing mosquitoes is no easy task. One way is to use larvicides into water where they breed. You’ve got to get your chemical into every puddle, every birdbath, every tree trunk. It’s just not practical or cost effective.

The second way you can do it is actually trying to kill the insects as they fly around via fogging. It’s basically mixing up chemicals in a smoke and spreading that through the environment. It’s not very effective, but it’s  the best thing we’ve got at the moment. Having said that, actually, your best form of protection is a long-sleeve shirt and a little bit of DEET to go with it. Along with Dengue Insurance to shield yourself from expensive hospital expenses.

Now, we need a solution that is environmentally friendly, cost effective and safe for us. Also, we do not want to kill organisms which are essential to our ecosystem. Enter the re-engineering of male mosquitoes.

Male mosquitoes don’t bite all they do is help reproduce female mosquitoes that do bite. We have G.M. crops, we have pharmaceuticals, we have new vaccines, all using roughly the same technology, but with very different outcomes. Taking cue for sci-fi, a sterile population equals to eventual extinction.

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