Instead of resorting to toxic pesticides, Florida officials are considering the novel approach of releasing sterile genetically modified male mosquitoes into Key West to control future dengue outbreaks, according to a recent article in Emerging Infectious Diseases posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The proposal was in response to a dengue outbreak in 2009-2010. Male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, have been under consideration. Although not truly sterile, their offspring die in the pupal or larval stage.
Releasing these genetically modified males into the wild, it is believed, would cause females to mate with them along with other naturally occurring males, thus dramatically reducing the total number of mosquitoes produced without using toxic pesticides or other environmentally harmful means.
Most of the Key West community surveyed was in favor of releasing the GM sterile mosquitoes. A smaller test of the sterile mosquitoes is planned for nearby Key Haven before they would be released in Key West.
Top image: Mosquito feeds on a human arm. (Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)