09/27/2021 at 10:03 AM CEST
Half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases. The danger is much greater among socially disadvantaged populations. Scientists have been searching for solutions for decades and believe they have found the definitive one: Wolbachia, a bacterium that lives naturally in 60% of the world’s insects, which blocks pathogens, and which, although it does not live in mosquitoes such as Aedes Aegypti , that it can be a carrier of diseases such as dengue, malaria, yellow fever, mayaro virus, chikungunya or Zika, Yes, it can be introduced into their eggs or into their body through microinjections or genetic engineering. Both solutions are already being tested. And they work. The Wolbachia could change the world.
Urbanization, globalization, climate change and changes in land use have contributed to the reappearance and expansion of mosquito-borne diseases. Dengue incidence has increased by 30% in the last half century and outbreaks of chikungunya, yellow fever, and malaria have increased in size and frequency since 2014.
The Zika virus epidemic in 2015 and 2016 in Latin America and the Caribbean caused socioeconomic disorders on a large scale. And the disruption of the supply chain due to the coronavirus pandemic is causing a increase in the number of malaria-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.
Mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue and malaria, therefore represent a very significant burden on global health. In fact, The mosquito is the most dangerous animal on the planet, the one that causes the most human deaths. Current insecticide-based control methods and environmental maintenance have failed to eliminate the disease burden.
Release of genetically modified mosquitoes
Release of genetically modified mosquitoesScientists are looking for scalable, deployable solutions, some of them based on genetics, to reduce the risk of transmission of these diseases. The release of genetically modified mosquitoes into the environment seems to spell great success.
The study entitled “Combating mosquito-borne diseases using genetic control technologies & rdquor ;, published in the journal ‘Nature’, reviews the latest developments and progress in this field, the similarities and distinctions between the technologies that are being used and their future applications for the control of mosquito-borne diseases.
The Wolbachia and is transmitted in insects from generation to generation through mating. When present in Aedes Aegypti, it nullifies its ability to infect people. If the entire population of these mosquitoes were to carry the bacteria, the possibility of contracting the diseases it transmits would be almost nil.
Scientists in many countries are introducing Wolbachia into the eggs of Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes. When the males of this species that carry this bacterium mate with wild female mosquitoes, even if they do not have Wolbachia, their eggs do not produce young and the number of specimens is reduced.
Another system that is also applied in some countries is to introduce the bacteria into both male and female mosquitoes. The result is also satisfactory. Also, only spayed females are being released in some places. In places like the United States, Australia, Mexico, Thailand, Puerto Rico or Colombia releasing mosquitoes with Wolbachia.
Experiments with the tiger mosquito, present in Spain
Experiments with the tiger mosquito, present in SpainMany countries already work with genetic control strategies. Researchers are modifying specimens and releasing them into the environment with Wolbachia. They want the offspring to be born with Wolbachia, thus nullifying their ability to make people sick. In some countries a special permission from the authorities is necessary for releases. Many more studies and new research are still needed, but the results so far have been encouraging.
Similar experiments are also being carried out with the tiger mosquitoAedes albopictus. In fact, an experiment in China has almost wiped out the populations of this species on two small islands.
The last paragraph of the study published by ‘Nature’ is significant: “Looking to the future, the prospect of controlling mosquito-borne diseases through innovative technologies is promising and we are in the golden age of the development of population control technologies. With increasing public trust, time and progress, we will continue to see these technologies developed and used safely to address global health issues and safe human lives.
On the other hand, studies carried out by the ‘World Mosquito Program’ have drawn several conclusions about biological control with Wolbachia:
-It is self-sustaining, making it an affordable long-term measure.
-Has been positive results in other parts of the world.
-It is a method health insurance of people, animals and the environment.
-In areas with high levels of Wolbachia, no transmission of dengue is evidenced.
-It is an alternative measure of control endorsed by government health entities of various countries.
-Does not have no cost for the community.
Treatment of mosquito bites
Treatment of mosquito bites-Wash the area with soap and water.
-Apply an ice pack for 10 minutes to reduce inflammation and itching. Reapply the ice pack as needed.
-Apply a mixture of baking soda and water, which can help reduce the itch response.
-Anti-itch cream for a mosquito bite.
-Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a small amount of water, enough to form a paste.
-Apply the paste to the mosquito bite.
-Wait 10 minutes.
-Use an over-the-counter antihistamine cream to help relieve itching. Follow the directions on the product label or ask your pharmacist.
Baseline Study: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-24654-z
Mosquito Alert website: http://www.mosquitoalert.com/
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