Cayman Islands release genetically modified mosquitoes to fight Zika

A technician from the British biotec company Oxitec, inspects the pupae of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a vector for transmitting the Zika virus, in Campinas, Brazil. Oxitec says it plans to start releasing hundreds of thousands of modified mosquitoes per week in June 2016 on Grand Cayman Island. AP Photo/Andre Penner

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – Genetically modified mosquitoes have been released in the Cayman Islands to control the insect that spreads Zika other viruses.

The Mosquito Research and Control Unit and British biotech firm Oxitec said the release began Thursday in the West Bay area of Grand Cayman Island.

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A statement described the area as a “hotspot” for the Aedes aegypti species that is the main vector for Zika as well as dengue and chikingunya.

Opponents had delayed the effort with a court challenge that was recently lifted by a judge in the British territory.

Plans call for releasing millions of genetically modified males that don’t bite but will mate with females to produce offspring that die before reaching adulthood. Opponents argued unsuccessfully that the project had been launched without sufficient notice and research.


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