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OX513A the Genetically Engineered Mosquito

OX513A the GMO Mosquito. 


Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals in the world. Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever are all transmitted to humans by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. OX513A, the genetically engineered mosquito was first released into the world's population in 2010 and was celebrated as the answer to eliminating the Aedes mosquito.

Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals in the world. Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever are all transmitted to humans by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals in the world
The Aedes aegypti or Aedes mosquito is jet black, with white spots on the upper torso and white rings on their legs. Aedes ability to carry and spread disease to humans causes millions of deaths every year. Aedes can breed in a teaspoon of water, and their eggs have been found in old tires, tin cans, plastic bottles, cesspools, catch basins, and ponds.

Oxitec field-tested OX513A in the Cayman Islands, Panama and Brazil, and claims a large success rate with each release. In the Cayman Islands in 2010, a small release of OX513A males created an 80% reduction in the disease-carrying population. Another trial in an urban area of Brazil reportedly reduced the Aedes by 95%. Oxitec,in 2016  announced an agreement with Brazilian officials to build a mosquito-breeding factory in the Brazilian state of São Paulo Piracicaba.

What are the four deadliest diseases spread by the Aedes mosquito?

Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is endemic in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2016, the first outbreak in 28 years. The last outbreak in the country occurred in 1988 with 37 cases and 14 deaths. Currently, with the blessing of The World Health Organization, most people in the infected areas receive ¼ of the yellow fever vaccine due to a worldwide shortage. A single dose of yellow fever vaccine provides long-lasting protection and a booster dose of the vaccine is not needed however, ¼ dose of the vaccine provides protection for around 1 year.

With yellow fever, after 3-6 days symptoms include fever, muscle pains, backache, headache, shivers, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting. Roughly 15% of patients enter a second, more toxic phase within 24 hours. Symptoms of this phase may include high fever, jaundice, and abdominal pain with vomiting. Bleeding can occur from the mouth, nose, eyes or stomach and blood appears in the vomit and feces, and kidney function may deteriorate. Half of the patients who enter the toxic phase die within 10-14 days, the rest recover without significant organ damage.

Spraying for Mosquitoes in a shanty town of the DRC Africa
Spraying for Mosquitoes in a shanty town of the DRC

The "yellow" in the name refers to the jaundice that affects some patients.
The last yellow fever outbreak in Nigeria occurred 14 years ago, but it took 10 years to control the transmission of the virus in the population.

Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. Joint pain is often debilitating. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist. Serious complications are not common, but in older people, the disease can lead to arthritic pains of longer duration and may cause death.

Zika

Symptoms are usually mild and can include mild fever, skin rash, inflammation of the eyes, muscle and joint pain, melancholy and headache. Zika infection during pregnancy causes microcephaly, babies born with small heads, and other fetal brain malformations. Zika is also a cause of Guillain-Barré Syndrome - a neurological condition that can lead to paralysis and death. Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys through a network that monitored yellow fever. It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

OX513A, the genetically engineered mosquito was first released into the world's population in 2010 and was celebrated as the answer to eliminating the Aedes mosquito.
Angolan child receiving vaccinations 

Dengue

Dengue is endemic in more than 128 countries, with 3.9 billion people at risk. About half of the world's population is now at risk.
Flu-like symptoms occur 4-10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito; high fever accompanied by severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash. The disease can develop into severe dengue which is a leading cause of serious illness and death among children in some Asian and South American countries.

African Urbanization and Immunizations

The risk of large and uncontrollable outbreaks in urban areas in Africa is more likely than ever. Accelerated urbanization has concentrated a non-immune population in settings where, high vector and population density, the main factors contributing to increased virus transmission are present.

Around 62% of the African population is still rural, urban growth rates at nearly 4% a year are the most rapid in the world, and nearly twice the global average. Not only are more people living in cities, but also the cities themselves are becoming larger and more numerous. There are now around 70 cities in Africa with more than one million people.

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