A world without mosquito-borne diseases

Test-trials may prevent mosquitoes from spreading disease and prevent 1 million deaths each year.


3500 species of mosquitoes are known, but only females from a 100 species that draw blood from humans to develop their eggs carry parasites can cause human disease. Most commonly these diseases are malaria, dengue, yellow fever and more recently zika. Infecting A. aegypti with Wolbachia, a bacterium that does not infect mosquitoes naturally and cannot infect humans, could mean mosquitoes cannot pick up and transmit viruses easily. The bacteria are passed on through eggs, sustaining itself in environment and gives ongoing protection. Small tests near Cairns and in Vietnam and Indonesia showed 90% mosquitoes were affected in weeks and are now being tested on large-scale field trials.

Wolbachia is safe for humans, animals and the environment as it is already found in many insect species. Two independent risk assessments gave an overall risk rating of ‘negligible’ for the release of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes. The eliminate dengue program is not trying to reduce the overall number of mosquitoes, but to reduce the ability to transmit disease, thus safeguarding its niche in the ecosystem. For large urban environment targeting has a very affordable cost of US$1 per person.  This method is now recommended by the WHO.

Currently, Vector control is a highly cost-effective way to prevent malaria at us$2.20 per person per year with insecticide-treated nets. Still, the WHO recommends testing new approaches for elimination, focusing on breeding sites and integrated approaches that tackle all life stages. Scientists claim that if the niche is replaced by another insect the ecological influence of elimination would not be bad, there would only be collateral damage.

Furthermore, the discovery of female attraction to body odour can help develop more competent repellents.

In order to save millions of lives; research has been done.  The method with the most social support, least risk, ecologically friendly, self-sustainable, cheap and least dangerous in terms of the unknown effects of spreading GM animals in the wild appears currently to be that of Wolbachia bacteria. This method should be deployed together with vector control in the form of better repellents and other forms of vector control to ensure the lowest amount of mosquito-borne diseases as possible without eliminating mosquitoes.




Bates, C. (2017). Would it be wrong to eliminate mosquitoes?. [online] BBC news. Available at: https://www.bbcswebdav/pid-2210579-dt-content-rid-4160502_1/courses/BIME080042016-7SV1SEM2/Would%20it%20be%20wrong%20to%20eradicate%20mosquitoes_%20-%20BBC%20News.pdf [Accessed 19 Mar. 2017].

Callaway, E. (2016). Rio fights Zika with biggest release yet of bacteria-infected mosquitoes. Nature, 539(7627), pp.17-18.

Doody, J., Soanes, R., Castellano, C., Rhind, D., Green, B., McHenry, C. and Clulow, S. (2015). Invasive toads shift predator–prey densities in animal communities by removing top predators. Ecology, 96(9), pp.2544-2554.

Edp program overview. (2017). 1st ed. eliminatedegue.com, pp.1-4.

Eliminatedengue.com. (2017). Wolbachia | Eliminate Dengue – A natural method to reduce the spread of dengue. [online] Available at: http://www.eliminatedengue.com/our-research/wolbachia#sthash.gF7fn1V7.dpuf [Accessed 19 Mar. 2017].

Fang, Janet. “A world without mosquitoes: eradicating any organism would have serious consequences for ecosystems–wouldn’t it? Not when it comes to mosquitoes.” Nature, vol. 466, no. 7305, 2010, p. 432+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 19 Mar. 2017

Jose Lopes, R. (2016). Why transgenic insects are still not ready for prime time. Nature news, 22 april 2016.

Ledford, H. and Callaway, E. (2015). ‘Gene drive’ mosquitoes engineered to fight malaria. Nature.

Oxitec. (2017). Our solution | Oxitec. [online] Available at: http://www.oxitec.com/our-solution/ [Accessed 19 Mar. 2017].

World Health Organization. (2017). Mosquito control: can it stop Zika at source?. [online] Available at: http://www.who.int/emergencies/zika-virus/articles/mosquito-control/en [Accessed 19 Mar. 2017].

World Health Organization. (2017). Control strategies. [online] Available at: http://www.who.int/denguecontrol/control_strategies/en [Accessed 19 Mar. 2017].

Pollack, A. (2017). New Weapon to Fight Zika: The Mosquito. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/business/new-weapon-to-fight-zika-the-mosquito.html?_r=0 [Accessed 19 Mar. 2017].

Pyke, G. (2008). Plague Minnow or Mosquito Fish? A Review of the Biology and Impacts of Introduced Gambusia Species | Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. [online] Annualreviews.org. Available at: http://annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.39.110707.173451 [Accessed 19 Mar. 2017].

White, M., Conteh, L., Cibulskis, R. and Ghani, A. (2011). Costs and cost-effectiveness of malaria control interventions – a systematic review. Malaria Journal, 10(1), p.337.

 World Wildlife Fund. (2017). Species List | Endangered, Vulnerable, and Threatened Animals | WWF. [online] Available at: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/directory?direction=desc&sort=extinction_status [Accessed 19 Mar. 2017].

[Picture source, a mosquito on skin: http://www.skincareorg.com/mosquito-bites/get-rid-mosquito-bites-fast-home-remedies/ ]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s