March 21, 2016 – Subbing Mosquitoes
Anchor lead: Can releasing modified mosquitoes stem the Zika tide? Elizabeth Tracey reports
Genetically modified mosquitoes are being used in many areas of the world to combat mosquito-borne illness, and are now being released in the hopes of stemming the tide of Zika virus infection around the globe. Mike Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says he’s hopeful about the strategy.
Klag: So the idea of using vectors that are incompetent somehow has been around for a long time. We’re taking a more sophisticated approach now with genetically engineering mosquitos. One of the problems if you look at the Dengue work in Singapore, you need to replace more than 90% of the mosquitos with the incompetent mosquitoes. This is being done in Brazil now. There is evidence in other settings it has worked, but you need a lot of mosquitos. :24
Klag says there’s a lot to be learned about controlling mosquito populations using lab grown insects, with the potential for improving control of global scourges such as malaria, as well as Zika. For now, he reminds everyone in a Zika affected to area to take measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.