Humans vs mosquitos

Diseases spread by bats, rats and rodents are far more easier to control and contain compared to those spread by mosquitos. Unlike bats and rats, mosquitos are too small to kill 1 by 1. The are tiny, have huge breeding rate and they suck blood surreptitiously. Most times we tend to notice a mosquito bite long after the event.

Mosquitos spread deadly diseases like malaria, dengue, Chikungunya, yellow fever and many more. Malaria being the most lethal disease that kills more than a million people every year. Most of them being children and affects close to 300 – 600 million people every year. This number is more than 2 times the population of entire middle east (Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE, Yemen).

 

anopheles
Anopheles – mosquito that transmits malaria

By far mosquitos are the most dangerous species vis-a-vis humans. Mosquitos play an important role in the food cycle and pollination so killing all mosquitos would also heavily impact nature and threaten our existence.

The deadly role of mosquitos came into spotlight recently due to a mysterious disease which causes birth defects mainly microcephaly in pregnant women affected with what is now known as Zika virus.

microcephaly

This virus again is spread by a specific species of mosquitos named Aedes aegypti. This species of mosquito is responsible for diseases like dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, etc. as well.

aedes-1
Aedes Aegypti

With the passage of time, this species of mosquito has developed resistance to insecticides so they cannot be killed easily. We as humans have always grappled in combating them. How to effectively identify and exterminate them? Also, once brain defect happens, it cannot be annulled using any vaccine so biologists had to come up with a preemptive measure.

Jackeline, feeds her son Gustavo Henrique who is 2-months old and born with microcephaly, with a bottle as they wait for a session with a physiotherapist at the Altino Ventura rehabilitation center in Recife
child affected by Zika virus

In 2017, scientists came up with a solution that is no less than science fiction. They genetically modified male Aedes mosquito in the lab by adding a self limiting gene. It is important to note that all these deadly diseases are spread by female mosquitos that feast on human blood in order to reproduce so when these male lab Aedes mosquitos are released in open, They will mate with their female Aedes mosquito species. However, because of genetic engineering, their offspring will not survive till adulthood and this will effectively put an end to their growth and eventually to the species itself.

GMO-mosquitos

The advancement in GMO field is truly unparalleled and no one had a faintest idea in the past that it shall help us to save our existence.

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