British Company: Let’s Fight Zika With Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JANUARY 26: Aedes aegypti mosquitos are seen in a lab at the Fiocruz institute on January 26, 2016 in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. The mosquito transmits the Zika virus and is being studied at the institute. In the last four months, authorities have recorded close to 4,000 cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. The ailment results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders including decreased brain development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus outbreak is likely to spread throughout nearly all the Americas. At least twelve cases in the United States have now been confirmed by the CDC. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
RECIFE, BRAZIL - JANUARY 26: Aedes aegypti mosquitos are seen in a lab at the Fiocruz institute on January 26, 2016 in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. The mosquito transmits the Zika virus and is being studied at the institute. In the last four months, authorities have recorded close to 4,000 cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. The ailment results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders including decreased brain development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus outbreak is likely to spread throughout nearly all the Americas. At least twelve cases in the United States have now been confirmed by the CDC. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

RECIFE, BRAZIL – JANUARY 26: Aedes aegypti mosquitos are seen in a lab at the Fiocruz institute on January 26, 2016 in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. The mosquito transmits the Zika virus and is being studied at the institute. In the last four months, authorities have recorded close to 4,000 cases in Brazil in which the mosquito-borne Zika virus may have led to microcephaly in infants. The ailment results in an abnormally small head in newborns and is associated with various disorders including decreased brain development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus outbreak is likely to spread throughout nearly all the Americas. At least twelve cases in the United States have now been confirmed by the CDC. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Disclaimer: this writer’s cute and charming tyrants that run the house (toy breed dogs) got their Heartgard today.  Our vet insists on it year-round.  For non-animal lovers, that is the monthly treat laced with medicine to prevent heart worms which is spread via mosquito bites.  Doesn’t matter the breed of mosquito, they are all carriers of something or other.

Okay, the people at the federal government’s Center for Disease Control and the rest of the scientific community are trying to be too clever for everyone’s own good.  Not only are they gung ho for a vaccine IN TWO YEARS for a crisis unfolding now with less than 50 cases reported in the country, but to fight the teeny tiny little bug – your choice of virus or mosquito – they want to introduce MORE mosquitoes to combat the virus.  The idea: get the genetically modified ones to mate with the infected and the offspring will die.

Oxitec, a British bug company, has been producing male mosquitoes that mate with those in the wild and produce baby mosquitoes that die before maturity for quite a while for a number of things transmitted via the insects.  And since it’s just the females that bite….

From CBS News:

while far larger drug companies explore the long-term development of vaccines or the use of existing ones against the disease, Oxitec is claiming some early success in Brazil, which reported its first case in May 2015 and has since tallied nearly 4,000 children with microcephaly, an abnormality that impairs development.

“We’ll respond a lot faster than a vaccine that hasn’t been invented yet,” Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry told CBS MoneyWatch. “We do have a lot of faith in vaccines, but with this we need to take an approach that has a tight focus on mosquito control.”

No joke.  Watch:

[iframe id=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/lglXr_r-3ZU” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no” maxwidth=”640″]

Note the answer is NOT to reintroduce DDT to kill the blood suckers, and encourage people to not have water standing around in cesspools, creeks, outdoor pots, and flower beds.  THAT’s where the little suckers breed.  Also no mention of B-complex vitamins (which this writer will testify do work as a repellent when taken daily), regular mosquito repellent, or netting over beds when the windows are open.  No working to introduce bat colonies which will eat them.  An increase in the number of bug zappers.  No, we have to go straight to a vaccine and trusting that the infected mosquitoes will mate with the black widow variety.  (Because that worked SO WELL with birth control and deer.)

Where was I?  Oh, yeah, genetically modified mosquitoes.  As it happens, the altering to the males is done with a bacteria that has to be approved by the EPA.  Since we are years from a vaccine and all the implications thereof (including mutation of the virus), many people in disease control consider controlling the mosquitoes is the only way to go (didn’t we go through this with malaria?).

“Vaccines will take many years, so mosquito control is the only card we have in the deck,” said Doyle. “The number of chemicals we can use has been reduced because of EPA rules — presently we don’t have the same tools in the tool box that we used to.”

Yes, the EPA banned DDT, didn’t they.

Alright, B-complex vitamins and dry flower pots it is.  Good thing so many of us have lived with mosquitoes for most of our lives and learned the simple ways to keep them under control close to home, otherwise we would be dependent on the government to keep the little bugs from biting us.

About the Author

Cultural Limits
A resident of Flyover Country, Cultural Limits is a rare creature in American Conservatism - committed to not just small government, Christianity and traditional social roles, but non-profits and high arts and culture. Watching politics, observing human behavior and writing are all long-time interests. In her other life, CL writes romance novels under her nom de plume, Patricia Holden (@PatriciaHoldenAuthor on Facebook), and crochets like a mad woman (designs can be found on Facebook @BohemianFlairCrochet and on Pinterest on the Bohemian Flair Crochet board). In religion, CL is Catholic; in work, the jill of all trades when it comes to fundraising software manipulation and event planning; in play, a classically trained soprano and proud citizen of Cardinal Nation, although, during hockey season, Bleeds Blue. She lives in the Mid-Mississippi River Valley with family and two cute and charming tyrants...make that toy dogs.

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