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Flightless mosquitoes developed to help control dengue fever
Date:2/22/2010

Irvine, Calif. A new strain of mosquitoes in which females cannot fly may help curb the transmission of dengue fever, according to UC Irvine and British scientists.

Dengue fever causes severe flulike symptoms and is among the world's most pressing public health issues. There are 50 million to 100 million cases per year, and nearly 40 percent of the global population is at risk. The dengue virus is spread through the bite of infected female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and there is no vaccine or treatment.

UCI researchers and colleagues from Oxitec Ltd. and the University of Oxford created the new breed. Flightless females are expected to die quickly in the wild, curtailing the number of mosquitoes and reducing or even eliminating dengue transmission. Males of the strain can fly but do not bite or convey disease.

When genetically altered male mosquitoes mate with wild females and pass on their genes, females of the next generation are unable to fly. Scientists estimate that if released, the new breed could sustainably suppress the native mosquito population in six to nine months. The approach offers a safe, efficient alternative to harmful insecticides.

Study results appear in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for the week of Feb. 22. The research is receiving funding support from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health through the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, which was launched to support breakthrough advances for health challenges in the developing world.

"Current dengue control methods are not sufficiently effective, and new ones are urgently needed," said Anthony James, Distinguished Professor of microbiology & molecular genetics and molecular biology & biochemistry at UCI and an internationally recognized vector biologist. "Controlling the mosquito that transmits this virus could significantly reduce human morbidity and mort
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Contact: Tom Vasich
tmvasich@uci.edu
949-824-6455
University of California - Irvine
Source:Eurekalert

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