Dengue Fever

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Junior (College 3rd year) ・English ・MLA ・3 Sources

Despite splendid research in coming up with methods of controlling the dengue fever, it continues to affect thousands and thousands of people around the world every year. Dengue fever is a debilitating mosquito-borne sickness caused by the dengue viruses. In the majority of the cases in the United States, they contract the disorder while travelling abroad as the sickness is mainly prevalent in the tropical areas of the world. However, the risk of contamination is continuously increasing in the US with various situations of outbreak recorded in Florida and some parts of Texas. These have resulted in the desire to come up with a foolproof means of controlling the contamination with the use of genetically modified mosquitoes becoming imminent. The role of this paper, therefore, is to offer a plausible argument on whether it’s safe and sensible to put genetically modified changed mosquitoes in the environment to fight diseases. Further, the paper will highlight whether the genetically modified mosquitoes can eliminate the dengue fever.

Effects of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes on the Environment

According to Fedoroff and Block, the FDA states that the use of genetically engineered mosquito to fight mosquito-borne disease cannot have a significant impact on the environment. Such a move by the health regulators in the USA can probably pave the way for the use of genetically modified techniques in the fight against vector-borne disease all over the country. The mutant mosquitoes produced by Oxitec firm are the Aedes aegypti, and they are responsible for the transmission of Dengue fever, the Zika virus, and other human diseases (Fedoroff and Block). These mosquitoes have the capability of cutting down the pest population by over 99% after their introduction in the field.

However, there are also concerns that once the genetically modified insects are released into the environment, it becomes hard to recall the insects thus arousing possible unintended effects on the health of the population and the safety of the environment (Pollack). Of concern is the fact that the British company that developed the mutant mosquitoes is that it rushed into field testing without sufficient review from the public and other government agencies. Further, the British biotechnology company, Oxitec performed their field testing exercises in those countries with weak environmental regulations, for example, Grand Cayman Island thus undermining the credibility and the legitimacy of their research findings (Pollack).

The British company focus on dengue fever is because unlike malaria, which is carried by different types of mosquitoes, the virus causing dengue fever is transmitted by only one subspecies of mosquito thus becoming easy to target the disease (Pollack). Despite the ability of the mutant mosquitoes to reduce the mosquito population, people in those areas earmarked for study primarily in the United States continue to resist its use as they argue more definitive research is needed that highlights on the long-term impacts of the use of genetically modified mosquitoes on the environment and the population (Abingdon). Evidently, people remain apprehensive about the release of genetically modified mosquitoes without even bothering to highlight the long-term benefits.

Use of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Eliminate Dengue Fever

According to Fedoroff and Block, the use of biological agents for insect control can come up with an alternative method of eradicating pests over a large area. For example, the use of organic agents in the control of screwworms was successful as the United States of America is currently free of the pest. As the use of mutant flies to control screwworms became a success, then controlling mosquitoes can become easier as they have become resistant to modern insecticides. Moreover, the diseases that were previously easily controlled are continuously re-emerging while posing a threat to the general populace (Fedoroff and Block). The genetically modified mosquitoes compete well with the wild mosquitoes for mates and thereby passing on the lethal gene that prevents the development of the mosquitos’ offspring.

The primary tests conducted in the Cayman Islands, Panama and Brazil on the effectiveness of the genetically modified mosquitoes indicated that they reduced the mosquito populations by over 99% (Fedoroff and Block). The results of the study should herald the positive effects of the use of modified insects in the help to control agricultural pests and insect-borne diseases, for example, dengue fever. Despite the concerns raised by the general populace, it’s imperative for the different inter-government agencies to come up with statements geared towards raising public awareness on the advantages of genetically modified insects in controlling dengue fever. Such a move can warrant support as Oxitec continues to research and come up with mutated mosquitoes. However, it is imperative to note that the technique adopted by Oxitec is not foolproof as some mosquitoes can evolve resistance to the lethal genes and thus develop to adulthood (Pollack).

Conclusion

From the above, it is evident that the use of genetically modified insects in the control of mosquitoes causing dengue fever is ecologically friendly than spraying insecticides. Despite the fact, critics say that the company that developed the mutated mosquitoes rushed into field testing without sufficient review from the public, research conducted by other credible agencies can assist in legitimizing the progress achieved by Oxitec.

 

Works Cited

Abingdon, Marissa. "Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes?" Scientific American. N.p., 2017. Web. 22 Oct. 2017.

Fedoroff, Nina, and John Block. "Opinion Mosquito vs. Mosquito in the Battle over the Zika Virus." Nytimes.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 22 Oct. 2017.

Pollack, Andrew. "Concerns Raised About Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes." Nytimes.com. N.p., 2011. Web. 22 Oct. 2017.

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