GM mosquitoes released to fight dengue

2011-01-26 16:08

kalahari.com

Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia released about 6 000 genetically modified mosquitoes into a forest in the first experiment of its kind in Asia aimed at curbing dengue fever, officials said.

The field test is meant to pave the way for the official use of genetically engineered Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes to mate with females and produce offspring with shorter lives, thus curtailing the mosquito population. Only female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread dengue fever, which killed 134 people in Malaysia in 2010.

A similar trial in the Cayman Islands last year, the first of its kind, resulted in a dramatic drop in the mosquito population in a small area studied by researchers.

The plan has sparked criticism by some Malaysian environmentalists, who fear it might have unforeseen consequences, such as the inadvertent creation of uncontrollable mutated mosquitoes. Critics also say such plans could leave a vacuum in the ecosystem that is then filled by another insect species, potentially introducing new diseases.

Government authorities have tried to allay the concerns by saying they are conducting small-scale research and will not rush into any widespread release of mosquitoes.

Analysis

The Malaysian government-run Institute for Medical Research said it released about 6 000 non-biting sterile male lab mosquitoes in an uninhabited forest area in eastern Malaysia on December 21. Another 6 000 wild male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were also placed in the area for scientific comparison, it said in a statement.

The institute provided few details of the experiment, but said it was "successfully" concluded on January 5, and that all the mosquitoes were killed with insecticide. It was not planning to release any more mosquitoes until the analysis of the results of the lab mosquitoes' life span and extent of their dispersal in the wild is complete.

It was the first such trial in Asia, an official in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to make public statements.

In the Cayman Islands, genetically altered sterile male mosquitoes were also set loose by scientists in a 16ha region between May and October last year. By August, mosquito numbers in that area dropped by 80% compared with a neighbouring area where no sterile mosquitoes were released.

The scientists' modeling estimates suggested an 80% reduction in mosquitoes should result in fewer dengue infections.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said last year the project was an "innovative" way to fight dengue after a lack of success in campaigns urging Malaysians to keep neighbourhoods free of stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed.

The number of dengue-linked deaths in Malaysia increased 52% last year from 88 deaths in 2009. The total dengue infections rose 11% from 2009 to more than 46 000 cases last year.

Dengue fever is common in Asia and Latin America. Symptoms include high fever, joint pains and nausea, but in severe cases, it can lead to internal bleeding, circulatory shutdown and death. There is no known cure or vaccine.
- AP
Read more on:    health  |  research
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is a good day to let go of expectations and just see where the wind takes you. You are in the mood to make the most of any...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.