Malaysia has released 6000 genetically modified mosquitoes in a forest in the first experiment of its kind inAsiaaimed at curbing dengue fever on December 21 of last year.
Only female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread the dreaded dengue fever. The symptoms of dengue fever are rashes, gastritis, high fever, nausea and vomiting or diarrhea. This can lead to internal bleeding, circulatory shutdown and eventually death. As of last year, 134 people have died inMalaysiadue to dengue fever.
Thus, genetically engineered Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes have been released into a certain forest to mate with females. The offspring produced will have much shorter lives which curtails the ever increasing population.
This plan has sparked serious criticism from some Malaysian environmentalists as these mosquitoes might reproduce to form a new breed of uncontrollable mutant mosquitoes. Critics also say that the plan may leave a vacuum in the ecosystem that is then filled by another insect species, potentially introducing new diseases.
In theCayman Islands, genetically altered sterile male mosquitoes were also set loose by scientists in a 40-acre region between May and October last year.
By August, mosquito numbers in that area dropped by 80 per cent compared with a neighbouring area where no sterile mosquitoes were released.
It is found that the 6000 genetically modified mosquitoes that were released in an unhabitated forest are non-biting which gives some relief. Taking the criticisms from Malaysian environmentalists, the experiment was successfully concluded on January 5 by killing the mutant mosquitoes by insecticide. Even though this method of curbing the problem of dengue fever is quite skeptical, it is better than doing nothing.