GM Mosquitoes to Take on Zika in Brazil

Thursday, January 21, 2016

GM Mosquito

A UK based company named Oxitec has been successful in reducing the wild larvae of Aedes mosquito by 82% in Piracicaba, Brazil. The company achieved this by releasing 25 million self–limiting strains of the Aedesaegypti mosquitoes or genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes between April and November, 2015. The GM mosquitoes, known as OX513A have successfully brought down dengue cases in Piracicaba.

These GM mosquitoes were also successful in reducing the proliferation of mosquitoes, which spread Zika and other viruses in Brazil. The male mosquitoes are modified such that they die before reaching adulthood and are able to reproduce. Zika virus was first detected in the 1940s in Africa and was undiscovered in America until last year, when it first appeared in north-eastern Brazil.

Brazilian health authorities have linked Zika’s outbreak to a surge in the number of babies born with unusually small heads, a damaging neurological condition called microcephaly. So far, there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, a condition that causes mild fever and rashes.

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