Dengue fever concerns have prompted Florida officials to ask the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to eliminate the threat through the use of genetically modified mosquitoes. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, male mosquitoes would be used in the fight against the disease, they do not bite.
Mosquito control officials in the Florida Keys are waiting for word from the federal government before releasing “hundreds of thousands” of genetically modified mosquitoes to help thwart the spread of dengue fever, according to ABC News.
If the FDA permits Florida to unleash the mosquitoes, it will be the first such dengue fever experiment in the United States. The Aedes aegypti mosquito population in the Key West area is the target of the unique endeavor, the New York Daily News notes.
Dengue fever is believed to have spread to the Florida Keys decades ago. It wasn’t until 2009 and 2010 that a staggering number of cases of the fever were reported in the region. A total of 93 cases of the “breakbone fever” were treated during the two-year period. The fever is a viral disease that present with flu-like symptoms. While Dengue fever is not fatal, it does make patients vulnerable to dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can be deadly.
FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess had this to say about the request to release genetically modified mosquitoes in the Key West area:
“We cannot speculate as to when a decision will be made. But no genetically engineered animals of any species that FDA regulates will be released in the United States, including for the purposes of field trials, without appropriate regulatory oversight.”
If Florida gets the approvals necessary, the Oxitec company will release the male non-biting mosquitoes in the Keys. If the plan works properly the males will mate with existing females and pass on a birth defect which kills offspring will die before reaching maturity.