NYT Opinion Piece Examines Benefits, Risks Of Using Wolbachia-Infected Mosquitoes To Reduce Transmission Of Mosquito-Borne Diseases
New York Times: It Takes a Mosquito to Fight a Mosquito
Tina Rosenberg, co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network
“…For much of the world, a mosquito bite can mean serious illness or death from malaria, yellow fever, chikungunya, Zika, and dengue. … But now there’s a new response: We can create good mosquitoes — those infected with bacteria that block or greatly reduce transmission of disease — and use them to vanquish the bad ones. … [I]n 2011, the World Mosquito Program at Monash University in Melbourne began releasing good mosquitoes in [Townsville, Australia, where dengue is not endemic but it had been possible to catch it when travelers from other countries imported the virus.] … Imported cases of dengue kept rising in Townsville during the mosquito releases. But local transmission of dengue virtually stopped. … What’s a good mosquito? It’s one infected with bacteria called Wolbachia. … Researchers in a variety of locales enduring tropical diseases are testing several ways to employ Wolbachia. The World Mosquito Program aims to replace the local mosquito population with a Wolbachia-infected population, the infected mosquitoes forming a larger and larger proportion of the total with each generation. … The program’s strategy of replacing bad mosquitoes with good ones has some disadvantages as well. … Any time we play God with nature, we need to worry about the consequences…” (1/8).