chikungunya

A field trial releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys would not harm humans or the environment, according to documents released Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Things To Know About GMO Mosquito Test Proposed In Florida

Mar 15, 2016
Andre Penner, File / AP Photo

The spread of the Zika virus in Latin America is giving a boost to a British biotech firm's proposal to deploy a genetically modified mosquito to try to stop transmission of the disease.

Muhammad Mahdi Karim / Wikimedia Commons

Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases.

Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood.

“This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease,” said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is waiting to hear if the Food and Drug Administration will allow the experiment.

Most of us will remember 2014 as the year Ebola came to the U.S. But another virus made its debut in the Western Hemisphere. And unlike Ebola, it's not leaving anytime soon.

The virus is called chikungunya: You pronounce it a bit like "chicken-goon-ya."

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An excruciating mosquito-borne illness that arrived less than a year ago in the Americas is raging across the region, leaping from the Caribbean to the Central and South American mainland, and infecting more than 1 million people. Some cases already have emerged in the United States.

While the disease, called chikungunya, usually is not fatal, the epidemic has overwhelmed hospitals, cut economic productivity and caused its sufferers days of pain and misery. And the count of victims is soaring.

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Health officials say a mosquito-borne illness that had afflicted Floridians who traveled to the Caribbean has now been transmitted within the state.

The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported the first locally acquired cases of Chikungunya. A 41-year-old woman in Miami-Dade County and a 50-year-old man in Palm Beach County are out of the hospital and recovering from the illness, which is serious but rarely fatal.

Muhammad Mahdi Karim / Wikimedia Commons

State officials say the number of Florida travelers who contracted the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus has risen to 81.

Florida's Department of Health says 15 new cases of the virus were reported last week. Officials say all the patients documented in Florida contracted the virus while traveling in the Caribbean.

Chikungunya is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It was documented in 40 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe before it was first confirmed in the Caribbean late last year.

As chikungunya fever sweeps through Haiti, forcing school, workplace and even  hospital closures because so many people are sick, public health officials say Florida needs to be on the lookout.
Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr., director of internal medicine at a hospital in Port-au-Prince, said half his staff  has already had the virus and he expects to get it too," the Miami Herald reports. "It's unbelievable how it's spreading," he said.