Mutant Mosquito Created in Florida: Franken-skeeter Builds Fear
A genetically engineered mosquito created to combat Dengue fever, may be released in the Florida Keys and is leaving residents scared.
Monday, WebProNews reported on a UK-based company's intentions to release a species of mosquito that could possibly shorten the lifespan of newly-hatched insects. In doing so, it will lessen the population, and in turn, the number of Dengue fever cases is also decreased.
That's the theory.
Oxitec, the company who created the mutant mosquito, wants to use the Florida Keys as a testing ground for these new mosquitoes. They feel that the release of these mutant bugs may damage the fragile environment in the Florida Keys. The residents demand more testing and experimentation before they take the mosquitoes out for a test drive.
A mutant mosquito idea, while interesting, has attracted a Change.org petition to stop the plans altogether. So far, the "Say no to genetically modified mosquitoes release in the Florida Keys" petition has over 103,000 signatures.
What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever, also known as breakbone fever, is a mosquito-borne infection that causes a severe flu-like illness. There are four different viruses that can cause dengue fever, all of which spread by a certain type of mosquito. Dengue can vary from mild to severe; the more severe forms include dengue shock syndrome and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). Patients who develop the more serious forms of dengue fever usually need to be hospitalized.
It’s true that genetically modified plants and animals can sometimes have unintended consequences on the environment, so the residents of the Florida Keys have a very legitimate fear.
There are currently no vaccines for Dengue fever. The best way to prevent the disease is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes altogether, which is why Oxitech wants to try these news genetically engineered mosquitoes on the environment.