If you’ve ever traveled out of the country, particularly to Africa, you probably understand the real threat of malaria more than most American citizens. Here in the U.S we are generally protected from the disease, but Sub-Saharan Africa witnesses around 90 percent of the world’s malaria deaths each year. U.S scientists recently announced that they successfully created a new strain of mosquito that could help eradicate malaria for good.
That might sound counter-intuitive; a mosquito to finally stop the unstoppable malaria? Researchers at the University of California utilized a sophisticated gene editing technique to actually insert DNA into the germ line of a certain type of mosquito known to be a leading vector of malaria.
Though additional testing is certainly needed through field studies, the researchers have established the technology that can efficiently create large populations of modified mosquitos. The goal is to eventually breed a new population of mosquitos that don’t present a risk in the hopes that they will overpower the mosquitos that spread malaria.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female mosquito known as a “malaria vector.” While five parasite species can create malaria in humans, only two are responsible for the deadly malaria epidemic with which we are familiar.
Though it’s actually preventable and curable, malaria ends up as a life-threatening disease since the Sub-Saharan African areas disproportionately stricken with malaria lack the proper care and prevention tools.
Malaria causes fever, chills, and vomiting that can be hard to recognize as malaria. Left untreated, it can cause severe complications and lead to death. Even though Americans don’t typically encounter malaria, travelers and immigrants returning from common malaria transmission countries are at very high risk.
Before and after traveling to any high-risk area, always have yourself checked and treated as needed to avoid the unpleasant complications of malaria.