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Published On: Thu, Jan 16th, 2014

Panama will use genetically modified mosquitoes in their battle with dengue

In a follow-up to a story two weeks ago where Panama declared a dengue outbreak, that up to that point, had affected more than 3,100 people and killed several individuals.

In response to the outbreak, the Panama Health Ministry announced they are turning to “transgenic”, or genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes in an attempt to get the epidemic under control, according to an AFP report Jan. 14.

According to the Abingdon, UK company, Oxitec, who produces GM Aedes aegypti mosquitoes:

Oxitec uses advanced genetics to insert a lethal gene into its mosquitoes. The gene is passed on to the modified insect’s offspring, so when Oxitec mosquitoes are released into the wild and mate with wild females their offspring inherit the lethality trait. The resulting offspring will die before reaching adulthood and the local mosquito population will decline.

This method of “mosquito control” has shown some promising results in the past. In field tests conducted in Juazeiro, Brazil, the engineered insects shrank the A. aegypti population in an 11-hectare area by 85% over one year.

Panama Health Ministry director Carlos Galvez told the AFP that the GM mosquitoes are not a danger to humans because they do not feed on blood, but rather on fruit.

The release of GM mosquitoes is set to commence by the end of the month.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne, potentially fatal disease that affects between 50 and 100 million people in tropical and subtropical regions every year, causing fever and muscle and joint aches.

According to the World Health Organization, Dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever are present in urban and suburban areas in the Americas, South-East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Pacific and dengue fever is present mainly in rural areas in Africa.

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Image/CDC

Image/CDC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Genetically modified mosquitoes: FDA releases final environmental assessment, Oxitec responds | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] Aedes aegypti so that their offspring die, reducing the population. Efficacy trials in Brazil, Panama, and the Cayman Islands have tested this approach, and in each of these trials the population of […]

  2. Panama reports two imported chikungunya cases | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] Related story: Panama will use genetically modified mosquitoes in their battle with dengue […]

  3. Panama reports two imported chikungunya cases - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Related story: Panama will use genetically modified mosquitoes in their battle with dengue […]

  4. Panama dengue fever death toll rises to 13, first hantavirus death of 2014 - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] is gearing up for using transgenic mosquitoes from Oxitec next month to attempt to get the outbreak under control. Panama declared a dengue epidemic at the […]

  5. Thousands Of Genetically Modified Insects Are Set For Release | Petra's Rantology says:

    […] Panama will use genetically modified mosquitoes in their battle with dengue […]

  6. GE Mosquitoes Bad Idea says:

    Oxitec has already admitted that they will release female mosquitoes which do feed on blood due to an imperfect sorting system. Oxitec has also admitted that 3-4% of the mosquito offspring will breed. So, the claim, “The resulting offspring will die before reaching adulthood” is false. As for the claim, “GM mosquitoes are not a danger to humans because they do not feed on blood, but rather on fruit.” Some of the GE mosquitoes will be female and will feed on blood, some of the 3-4% of offspring that survive will be female and feed on blood. There are also other ways humans will be exposed to them, through skin contact and even ingestion if a child drinks from a cup left outside where GE mosquito larvae are present, etc. There is no evidence from any of the previous trials that GE mosquitoes have reduced dengue, and many entomologists doubt this will reduce dengue. Oxitec releasing these GE mosquitoes on a human population without proper safety testing should be considered a human rights violation.

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