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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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Killing mosquitoes genetically?

With little success in developing vaccines against mosquito related diseases, scientists have now reverted to genetically modifying the mosquito as a means of combating mosquito- borne diseases.

Scientists have now genetically modified mosquito so that its offsprings die much early in development and therefore unable to reach the critical adult age required for transmitting any disease. Although the target for the genetically modified (GM) mosquito is combating dengue fever, it also holds the potential for controlling other mosquito-borne diseases.

A team of UK researchers led by Luke Alphey, of the Department of Zoology, Oxford University, genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which spread dengue and yellow fever virus.

In an article published in the BMC Biology Journal, the researchers say that the gene causing death at the later stages of development was most effective at reducing the populations.

The scientists argue that for population control purposes, it is important that the mosquitoes die before they mature or reach reproductive maturity.

For disease control purposes, it is also desirable that the mosquitoes die before the point at which they can transmit disease.

For mosquitoes, this is before the adult females attain the ability to the bite or, for disease transmission, or the ability to incubate the pathogen after feeding on an infected blood.

Around the world, the medical and economic burden caused by vector-borne diseases continues to grow as current control measures fail to cope. The researchers note that there is therefore an urgent need to identify new control strategies that will remain effective, even in the face of growing insecticide and drug resistance.

The researchers note that while sterile insects have been used for over 50 years to control or eliminate pests or disease- carrying insects such as the tsetse fly, the methods to produce sterilisation, such as radiation, are inefficient.

The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is a species-specific and environmentally benign method for insect population control that relies on the mass-rearing and release of sterile insects. These released insects compete for mates with wild males; a wild female mating with a released sterile male has fewer progeny, so the population tends to decline. If sufficient sterile insects are released for a sufficient period, the target population will be controlled or even locally eradicated.

SIT has been used successfully for over 50 years for area-wide control and limitation of several important agricultural pests and disease vectors, including the Mediterranean fruit fly, the screwworm fly and the tsetse fly.

Though a number of trials were conducted in the 1970s, with some success, there are today no large-scale SIT programs in operation against any mosquito species. Results of a study, Late-acting dominant lethal genetic systems and mosquito control, indicated that by spreading the lethal genes, and ensuring that the offspring die before causing harm, GM mosquitoes could effectively reduce the wild mosquito population and thus transmission of the dengue virus in areas where the disease is prevalent.

S. Vasan, a visiting research fellow at Oxford University, United Kingdom is quoted in SciDev.Net saying, "With reasonable funding, this technology can also be extended to control other important [disease-carrying] mosquitoes including Aedes albopictus and Anopheles species."

Vasan told SciDev.Net that the mosquitoes have been tested at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France.

He added that extensive testing was already taking place at the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Vectors in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and that India's Review Committee on GM is examining a proposal to conduct small-scale trials.

Paul Reiter, head of the Insects and Infectious Disease Unit at the Pasteur Institute, welcomed the development, indicating that novel approaches are urgently required to replace traditional insecticidal approaches that have little, if any, impact on disease transmission.

Dengue fever is endemic in more than 100 countries in Africa, the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. The World Health Organization estimates there may be 50 million cases of dengue infection worldwide every year. Incidences of dengue fever have increased four-fold since 1970 and is now a major health problem threatening an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide, with 50-100 million new infections per year.

The recent development of genetic transformation methods for mosquito species has opened the door to a range of approaches to the control of disease transmission that are
based on manipulating the genome of the mosquito vector.

Population replacement strategies, which aim to convert a pathogen-transmitting mosquito population into one incapable of transmission, may provide the best solution in the long term, particularly for poorer regions with very large mosquito populations.

However, genetics-based population suppression and elimination strategies, such as Release Insects carrying a Dominant Lethal (RIDL) and conventional SIT, have considerable potential applicability in many parts of the world. Since it requires rather simpler molecular biology and genetics, RIDL may be available much earlier than systems based on
population replacement.

From a regulatory point of view, RIDL is also somewhat less challenging, as an autocidal system will rapidly eliminate itself from the environment unless deliberately maintained by
constant re-introduction. It has therefore been suggested that SIT should be the first application for field release of transgenic insects, according to the researchers.

The researchers however expressed fear that their technology may never see the light of day because of politics. Political action has derailed at least one mosquito SIT programme in the past, and it will be essential to obtain broad political support and regulatory approval if this method is indeed to help reduce the burden of vector borne diseases.
 

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