MEDICAL: DISEASES: ZIKA VIRUS: Zika Virus: Gene-Altering Technology Provides Hope For Aedes Aegypti Eradication
David P. Dillard
Zika Virus: Gene-Altering Technology
Provides Hope For Aedes Aegypti Eradication
September 2, 2016
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The danger of mosquitoes has only recently been a widely-discussed topic with the Zika virus becoming a more prevalent threat in the United States. Scientists have a radical new idea that could eliminate the threat of the most common Zika-spreading mosquito, Aedes Aegypti, by totally eradicating the species.
Unlike many proposals that garner scorn from the scientific community, this particular idea to combat the Zika virus has gained support from several prominent individuals. One such person, entomologist Zach Adelman who is a virologist and associate professor of entomology at Texas A&M University, told the Wall Street Journal that eliminating this mosquito would be like cleaning up a global mess.
I think it is our moral duty to eliminate this mosquito, Adelman says.
And with these mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus reproducing like mad, there is only one solution to eradicate them, which is to turn them all into males.
Eventually, the mosquitoes would run out of mates, which would be a man-made type of extinction which doesnt usually gain approval in the scientific community. Gregory Kaebnick, a research scholar at the Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute in Garrison, N.Y., said that wiping a species off the face of the earth is an unfortunate thing to have to do and we ought to try not to do it. But Omar Akbari, a molecular biologist and assistant professor of entomology at the University of California, Riverside, says Aedes aegypti is literally probably the most dangerous animal in the world.
In the United States, Miami, Fla. is experiencing the most serious threat from the Zika virus due to the areas ideal climate and moisture levels. Matthew DeGennaro studies mosquitoes at Florida International, and he described the insects talents for locating humans to WLRN.
At a distance, a mosquito senses the carbon dioxide from you, DeGenanaro said. They fly closer to you, then they start smelling your body odor. And then, as they get a little closer to you, they sense the heat thats coming off your body. Then they land on you.
And the problem with these crafty mosquitoes is that they have adapted to thrive among humans and get their tasty blood meal by any means necessary. Another FIU researcher, Mario Perez, says Aedes aegypti targets the ankles because were less likely to notice them and swat the Zika virus carriers there.
As different pesticide tactics have been used to combat the insects, it turns out that even those chemicals may be making the mosquitoes stronger.
The complete article may be read at the URL above.
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