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UA researchers discover gene for mosquito birth control

TUCSON – There are many different types of birth control available to humans, but now there is birth control for mosquitoes.

The buzz of a mosquito can be annoying, or it could be deadly.

“If you live in Africa and Southeast Asia, South America, your life is affected by mosquitoes and it’s not because they bit you and it’s itchy,” said Roger Miesfeld. “It’s because you’re going to get a terrible disease.”

As we have seen with Zika and West Nile, mosquitoes can spread diseases fast. Nearly a million deaths are attributed to mosquito-borne illness each year.

There is still a lot of work to be done, but researchers at the University of Arizona discovered a gene in mosquitoes that could pave the way for mosquito birth control.

“We came across this gene that Dr. Isoe discovered in which all of the eggs that the mosquito discovers after she takes a blood meal are defective. So we call it birth control because she’s not able to give viable offspring.”

It is just the first step, but this is a brand new discovery that could eventually lead to mosquito control across the globe.

“I think it’s important because mosquito diseases are on the rise,” said Miesfeld. “Human population is on the rise. The Aedes aegypti love humans. She bites 90 percent of the time. She likes to live where humans live. The pathogens know that. The viruses get in on that and it’s a problem.”

This will only affect mosquitoes, so when it eventually becomes a type of spray, it will not harm other bugs or wildlife.

The goal is not to take out the mosquito population entirely, but just cut down on diseases transmitted by the blood-feeding insects.

Go HERE for more details.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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