Dengue fever is in more than 100 countries and affects as many as 100 million people worldwide. It broke out in the Florida Keys in 2009 when aedes aegypti mosquitoes gather in rainwater, which causes the spread of the virus.
“It can come in waves,” Chris Tittel, a spokesman for the Monroe County Health Department told The Daily Caller. Of the 93 cases, most were locals and there has not been an outbreak of dengue fever since November 2010.
Florida Keys officials have been using chemicals in the forms of fogs and sprays to keep mosquitoes at bay, but the pests always return and the process repeated.
If the FKMCD does go ahead with Oxitec’s mosquitoes after proper regulations are approved, only males, which do not bite, would be released.
“Each wild female will produce roughly 70-100 eggs when they mate. They can produce about 500 eggs in their lifetime. So you’re releasing lets say several thousand males which will have the ability to reduce the population of mosquitoes out there by several hundred thousands. The benefit you’re bringing about there is astronomical,” Parry told TheDC.
These genetically modified mosquitoes have “obviously been bred in a laboratory so they do not have dengue,” and all their offspring die because of the lethal gene so there is no risk of them spreading disease, only of the mosquito population decreasing in the Florida Keys.
As for concerns not enough research has been completed to warrant the release of these mosquitoes, Parry told TheDC, “We have shown that this approach works in Cayman, Brazil etc. so this would not be a scientific ‘does it work?’ type trial but more about whether the approach fits with the practices/ organization etc. of FKMCD so they would have a tool to use with confidence in the future should they so wish.”