May 24, 2017 – Infectious Diseases (Mosquitoes)

  1. Read the article “World Without Mosquitoes.”  Which method or combination of methods do you think is best to rid the world of mosquito-borne infectious diseases (avoidance of mosquitoes, wolbachia infection, or sterilization)? Evaluate the pros and cons of the method or methods chosen, and pick which method you think would be the most successful.

Mosquito borne illnesses are a leading global killer of millions of people per year all over the world, and especially in developing nations. There are three common infectious diseases resulting from mosquitoes including malaria, dengue, and zika caused by a transmission of parasites, or viruses from mosquito to human. Currently, there are a variety of options for prevention mosquito-borne illnesses. These include bug sprays, mosquito nets, fogging, Wolbachia, sterilization of male mosquitoes, certain vaccinations, and many others. Of all the techniques I think the one with the most promise is the use of Wolbachia bacteria to infect mosquitoes and make them resistant to diseases like dengue and malaria. Wolbachia has mostly been used to prevent dengue by injecting the eggs with the Wolbachia. Once the mosquitos were of age and began breeding the bacteria will pass down unassisted through wild generations and be in the offspring of the original carrier. If a Wolbachia containing male mosquito breeds with a female not containing the bacteria, then no offspring will be produced, but if a Wolbachia containing female mates with a non-Wolbachia male then the offspring will contain the bacteria because it will be passed through the maternal line. As a result of these studies there was a significant decrease in the prevalence of dengue in humans. To humans Wolbachia has no threat and it cannot be passed onto humans. There is also no sign that it harms the environment either because it only resides in insects and will not have any effect on animal predators. (O’Neill) In a different study Wolbachia was used to control malaria and though the trials were harder to perfect, it still showed great promise in being a viable treatment plan in the future. (Mole) There are several disadvantages to Wolbachia use in the future. For one it still needs a great amount of testing before it can become a viable treatment plan and this will require a lot of money and time. Another is that it is not clear whether or not the mosquitoes will be able to develop resistance to Wolbachia over time which can pose an obstacle in this being a long term treatment method. More research will need to be conducted in order to see how this may prevent other mosquito borne illnesses like zika in the future. I believe that with more research this is a very revolutionary method that may end mosquito-borne illness. For now, I think things like vaccines should still be explored and other preventative measures should still be taken until Wolbachia is fully effective.

  1. Should human and environmental control of mosquito-vector borne diseases be implemented? Where and by who? What are some conflicts that could be encountered?

Human and environmental control of mosquito-vector borne diseases should definitely be implemented, especially in places where these diseases are common. A lot of research needs to be conducted in developed nations first to determine what will be the best solutions to these diseases in developing countries. Human vector control includes things like mosquito spray, insect nets, and vaccines. Insect nets are currently used in developing countries but are not helpful throughout the day when someone is outside. Mosquito sprays themselves are not very practical for developing nations because many people will not have access to it, or may not even use it. Scientists are also exploring the vaccine route and a dengue vaccine does exist. The vaccine would be a great method to reduce dengue risk, however the vaccine is expensive and requires three doses of treatment so someone would have to keep coming back to get another dose. This would be very difficult especially in rural populations as a person may only be able to get one vaccine and then not have the means to return to the clinic or even afford getting the dose. The vaccine is also not entirely effective and it has been seen to be more effective in people who had the infection previously than in those who had never had it. The vaccine route on a positive would reduce hospitalization by 80%. If researchers came up with a more efficient vaccine for dengue and found a vaccine method for diseases like malaria and zika that were realistic and cost effective solutions in developing countries, then human control for mosquito-borne illnesses would be a great route to take. Environmental control for mosquito-borne illnesses are also a possible route to take, however it would take longer and pose bigger risks on a larger scale. Ideas like getting rid of mosquitos all together are very difficult and may disrupt the ecosystem. It would also be expensive to try to get rid of every single mosquito and it may not even be successful in the end. Additionally, if mosquitoes were gone, another more dangerous insect may emerge and take its place in the ecosystem. (Fang) A viable environmental control would be the use of Wolbachia bacteria which is a naturally sustaining way of stopping diseases like dengue and malaria by hindering the disease in mosquitoes. This route of prevention is a great solution but it would require significant amounts of money in order to conduct necessary testing, and trials. Trying to come up with vaccines and exploring the Wolbachia bacteria may provide future solutions to some of the leading causes of death in developing countries. However, a lot of research and money will need to go into these causes which will likely delay their future use. In the meantime, I think a good route to take would be to educate places on what mosquito-borne diseases are, how to prevent them, and how to detect signs of illness. It would also be helpful and necessary to give out things like repellant, mosquito netting, fogging, or longer clothes so that there is less surface area for mosquitoes to bite.

 

Fang, Janet. “A world without mosquitoes.” Nature 466.7305 (2010): 432-34. Web.

Mole, Beth. “Sickly mosquitoes stymie malaria’s spread.” Nature News. Nature Publishing Group, 9 May 2013. Web. 25 May 2017.

O’Neill, Scott. “How a Tiny Bacterium Called Wolbachia Could Defeat Dengue.” Scientific American. N.p., 1 June 2015. Web. 25 May 2017.

 

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