Oxitec GM Mosquitos Linked To Zika Outbreak 

Back in September 2010, a scientific report voiced concerns about the 3-4 % that would survive. The scientists wanted to do further investigations before releasing GM mosquitoes.

The report warned that transgenes (transferred genes) can lead to changes that are unintended, unpredictable and unrelated to the nature of the gene inserted.

In July 2012, praised British company Oxitec introduced its genetically-modified mosquito farm. Reportedly, the goal was to decrease the incidence of dengue fever.

In July 2015, shortly after releasing the 18 million GM mosquitoes into the wild in Brazil, Oxitec announced their success in controlling the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes without much data on the impact to the ecosystem.  Please note this is the same area of the recent outbreak of Zika infection.

Oxitec GM insects (designated OX513A),  were genetically altered male Aedes aegypti that mated with non-modified female Aedes mosquitoes in the wild.

 

Oxitec GM Mosquitos At The Epicenter Zika Outbreak.

Brazil started deploying GM mosquitoes to reduce the natural Aedes mosquito population that transmit dengue fever.

The production of offsprings triggered transcription in the modified part to kill the larvae before breeding age, provided no tetracycline (antibiotics) exposure during development.

Brazil is third in the World for using tetracycline with farmed animals. This is not well absorbed and over 75% is excreted into the soil. GM mosquitos looking for food can ingest this tetracycline as part of their blood meal. Even small amounts will suppress the modified development, allowing the altered mosquitoes to survive.

Tetracycline represses the GM-designed development. Small amounts of tetracycline can result in a survival rate as high as 15%.

It turned out that cat food was used to feed the larvae in at least one lab. This cat food contained factory-farmed chicken which also contains tetracycline. This was discovered when a disparity was noted in survival rate testing results, with one lab testing at 15% survival rate (the one with cat food fed larvae) and another testing in at just 3%.

Scientist Dr Ricarda Steinbrecher voiced concern regarding the release of GM mosquitoes without field cage studies.  She raised many questions, that required answers, to reduce the risk to mankind and other animals.

Earlier this year, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Germany examined information regarding the release of modified insects into the environment in Malaysia and Grand Cayman, which were carried out by Oxitec. The scientists’ findings suggest that there are “deficits in the scientific quality of regulatory documents and a general absence of accurate experimental descriptions available before releases start”. (3)

The Zika outbreak in Brazil followed Oxitec’s release of GM mosquitos.  The release location is the epicenter of the outbreak where a surge in babies with microcephaly was noted.

Recall GM mosquitoes act to produce abnormal offsprings in the natural Aedes mosquitoes, so they die before breeding.  Interesting  the Zika virus in pregnant women causes abnormal human offspring with reduced life expectancy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Questions For Oxitec  Before Release Of More GM Mosquitos

Here are questions that should be considered and answered before Oxitec is allowed to release more GM mosquitoes into the wild.  Most of the following questions were asked by Dr Steinbrecher in a letter to the National Biosafety Board (NBB.  World Health Organization scheduled an emergency meeting about Zika on Monday, February 1, 2016.

Let’s make sure Oxitec does not release more GM mosquitos before responding to the following questions and other questions that link GM mosquitos to the recent Zika  virus outbreak in Brazil.

When released into the wild:

  • Will the bite of the female LMO mosquito change?
  • How is the life cycle of the male mosquitos changed after genetic modification?
  • Will the reaction of humans or animals to the mosquito bite change?
  • Are there different immune reactions due to compositional changes in the saliva of the mosquito?
  • Will the pathogen vector interaction change in female mosquitoes?
  • Did the level of dengue virus present in the saliva change?
  • Did the affinity to dengue virus change?
  • Are there new interactions with other viruses?
  • Do different environments result in different altered phenotypic and behavioral characteristics?
  • Do different condition, biotic and abiotic stresses result in different survival rates?
  • What is the emergency response should GM mosquitos  harm humans or other animals?

 

Referenced links:

  1.  Zika Outbreak Epicenter in Same Area Where GM Mosquitoes Were Released in 2015:

http://www.activistpost.com/2016/01/zika-outbreak-epicenter-in-same-area-where-gm-mosquitoes-were-released-in-2015.html

 

2.  Release of GM mosquito Aedes aegypti OX513A (NRE(S)609-2/1/3) | EcoNexus

http://www.econexus.info/publication/release-gm-mosquito-aedes-aegypti-ox513a

 

3.  Can GM mosquitoes rid the world of a major killer? | Environment | The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/jul/15/gm-mosquitoes-dengue-fever-feature?cat=environment&type=article

 

 

Zika Virus Targets The Fetus

The virus known as Zika was first isolated shortly after World War II, in 1947 Uganda. The first human case was reported in Nigeria in 1954.

Since, the virus spread across Africa and into the Pacific. It was detected in Malaysia in 1966. In 2007 the virus spread to the Island of Yap in Micronesia, with the first reported outbreak:  73% of the population aged 3 and above being infected.

In 2009, after a field trip to Senegal in Africa, American scientist Brian Foy may have transmitted the infection to his wife (the first known suspected case of sexually transmitted Zika).

In 2013 French Polynesia there were 28,000 infections in one outbreak. In 2015 the first reported local transmissions of the virus were seen in South America, Central America and the Caribbean.  Presently, there are reports of 3 cases involving New Yorkers.

Since 2015 there has been a Zika outbreak in Brazil. It is believed the virus was spread during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Now there is serious concern with the pending Rio 2016 Olympic Games! The American CDC authority estimates there were 1.3 million suspected cases in Brazil in 2015.

Transmission Methods

The primary mode of transmission is from mosquitoes, the Aedes aegypti, to humans. These are the same insects known to transmit other viral infections such as Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever and West Nile Virus.   With many infected, concerns of humans transmitting the  Zika virus to local mosquitoes is mounting.

Several reports of secondary transmission, from human males, via sexually transmitted infections opens the possibility of Zika becoming a sexually transmitted virus.   In affected areas in Brazil, a 20-30 fold surge in babies born with microcephaly is  linked to Zika virus.   The virus isolated in amniotic fluid, breast milk and semen, raised concerns that it could be transmitted by blood transfusions, laboratory exposure, sex and intrauterine (uterus), prompting  more investigation into its mode of transmission.

Symptoms

Zeka has an incubation period of about 10 days. Travelers returning from infected areas may develop the infection after an incubation period of about 10 days.

Symptoms  are usually none at all in 80% of those infected or at most a very mild headache, fever, maculopapular rash, conjunctivitis and joint pains. Symptoms are self-limited and there are presently no antibiotic or antiviral treatments available.

Infection in the first trimester of pregnancy is linked to microcephaly (tiny heads) and other brain damage in newborns.

Brazil:
In 2013 there were 167 cases of microcephaly; in 2014 there were 147 cases; and in 2015 there were  at least 2,782 cases.

RNA (an acid) from the Zika virus was isolated in mothers and babies with microcephaly. In addition, some patients have developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome (muscle weakness), which caused transient paralysis following infection.

Prevention


Protection from mosquitoes is the best prevention.   Use mosquito repellent and cover up exposed skin. These mosquitoes bite during the daytime. There are no vaccines available.

Currently the CDC-issued travel guidance advises pregnant women not to travel to affected countries.  Some South American and Caribbean countries advised women to postpone pregnancy until 2018. 

Healthcare providers should report Zeka cases to their state or local health departments.

Why now?

There are reports of genetically-modified mosquitoes being used in Brazil to reduce the mosquito population. Such produces deformed mosquitoes. These may be eaten by birds, other insects and humans. The long-term effect unknown.

Imagine the weaponry of GMO mosquitos.  Zika???  It targets our future generation and may reduce birth rates in affected countries.


 

Links to referenced material below…

http://microbepost.org/2016/01/13/what-is-zika-virus/

Zika Virus Spreads to New Areas — Region of the Americas, May 2015–January 2016 | MMWR
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6503e1er.htm?s_cid=mm6503e1er.htm_w

Zika virus: Outbreak ‘likely to spread across Americas’ says WHO – BBC News

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-35399403

Brazilian City Tries Fighting Viruses With GMO Mosquitoes
http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/gmo-mosquitoes-may-battle-zika-dengue-brazil-n499576