Zika fight: Scientists testing genetically modified mosquitoes

This 2006 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host.

If there’s one thing that could detract from the joys of warmer months, it’s the mosquito.

However, scientists are getting some backlash in their fight to stop the zika virus.

Researchers want to test genetically-modified mosquitoes in Florida, but some people are against it.

This Change.org petition aims to stop field testing in Florida, and it has more than 166,000 signatures.

7News talked with Dr. Peter Adler, a Clemson Entomologist, about the testing and this is what he had to say:

“I think the risks are minimal and the benefit so far outweighs any risks that you know we would be a bit remiss if we didn’t go forward.”

Adler pointed out that the program targets only the species of mosquito most effective at spreading disease, the Aedes aegypti.

“Is this going to cause some super mosquito. No it’s not. These released males are going to go out there, mate with females, very quickly die. And they return to the natural environment with no impact.”  said Adler.

Meanwhile families, like the Fraziers in Greenville, are taking their own action.

“Now learning that potentially the Zika virus could affect adults or children, not just fetuses, that was enough a concern for us to make it more of a priority to spray when in previous years it’s like maybe we’ll do it, but this year it’s like yeah, we’ll do it this year.” said mother of three, Donna Frazier.

 

 

Adler says the biggest impact you can have is to drain all standing water. That takes the bite out breeding near your home. And since mosquitoes can’t travel but a few hundred yards, it’s highly effective.

The Food and Drug Administration has determined that the possibility that these genetically-modified mosquitoes could be toxic to people, spread disease, or have adverse impacts on the environment is low or negligible.

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