CARIBBEAN: Cayman Islands latest venue for genetically engineered mosquitoes in fight against Zika

CARIBBEAN: Cayman Islands latest venue for genetically engineered mosquitoes in fight against Zika
A trap holds mosquitos at the Dallas County Mosquito Lab, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Hutchins, Texas, that had been set up near the location of a confirmed Zika virus infection. Although there has been no reported cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitos in Texas, health officials are closely monitoring and testing mosquitos in areas where infections have been confirmed. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
A trap holds mosquitos at the Dallas County Mosquito Lab, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Hutchins, Texas, that had been set up near the location of a confirmed Zika virus infection. Although there has been no reported cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitos in Texas, health officials are closely monitoring and testing mosquitos in areas where infections have been confirmed. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
A trap holds mosquitos at the Dallas County Mosquito Lab, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Hutchins, Texas, that had been set up near the location of a confirmed Zika virus infection. Although there has been no reported cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitos in Texas, health officials are closely monitoring and testing mosquitos in areas where infections have been confirmed. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

CARIBBEAN360 – The Cayman Islands Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU), in partnership with the British biotech company Oxitec, will release genetically engineered male mosquitoes across Grand Cayman in the latest initiative to suppress the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads several viruses, including Zika.

In March, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended pilot deployment of the modified insects because of the Zika outbreak and after the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) preliminary findings that there were no significant impacts during a trial in the Florida Keys.

MRCU director Dr Bill Petrie said that the decision to deploy the “Oxitec solution” came after the success of the peer-reviewed trial.

“We believe this environmentally friendly tool can greatly reduce the population of Aedes aegypti and has the potential to eliminate it from Grand Cayman,” he said.

MRCU performed the world’s first trial with Oxitec’s OX513A self-limiting mosquito – a genetically engineered, non-biting male that mates with disease-transmitting wild Aedes aegypti females – which officials claimed successfully reduced the target mosquito population by 96 percent.

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