Florida has it all... fabulous beaches, fun cities, copious freshwater rivers & streams...and mosquitoes. So when articles about rendering mosquitoes sterile appear, that may seem like a perfect solution. Those of us with Hereditary Alpha Tryptasemia syndrome (HATS), are particularly susceptible to insect bites, especially if they come from mosquitoes carrying Dengue Fever. But there are long-term ecological impacts to fragile ecosystems that must be considered, as well.
As a former resident of Florida with HATS, I am keenly aware of the impacts of bites from mosquitoes...and, for that matter, from Florida's hordes of other insects and scorpions. Realizing that I am susceptible to Dengue Shock System is a serious concern for me.
- Dengue Fever complications like Dengue Shock System are associated with TPSAB1. link
- Having 2+ copies of TPSAB1 is associated with Hereditary Alpha Tryptasemia Syndrome (HATS). link
- Genetically modified mosquitoes were distributed in 2019, yet their results have not been successful in reducing mosquitoes in Brazil. link
- Genetically modified (GMO) mosquitoes are being distributed in 2021 in Florida. link
The one has to ask oneself: which animals eat the mosquitoes? What are the long-term impacts of sterile mosquitoes (ie., lowered populations) to those birds, frogs, lizards, and other animals? What are the impacts to the animals at the top of those food chain(s)? One thing that comes to mind is the detriment to Guam's ecology, through the accidental importation of non-native snakes in the 20th century, or Florida's Everglades' exactly impacts from illegally-introduced species.
Preventing humans from the impacts of dengue is clearly a critical issue. But solving for the long-term biological impacts is, as well. And none of the articles I've seen so far have addressed this concern. And even if they hypothetically addressed this concern, I'd likely remain unimpressed, because there are no longitudinal studies demonstrating the impact of this shift in the food chain.
Note: Since the author only has 2 semesters of environmental biology and ecology (my MS is neither in biology nor ecology), any observations made in this article are simply opinion.
Photo: ©️2020 Karen Smith-Will