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Jurassic Farce

It feels like I live in the real world example of Ray Bradbury’s All the Summer in a Day but for the last two weeks we have had sun and heat and it has been glorious. I get Christmas and Thanksgiving and New Years as vacation, but who needs that? I need July and August to live the vida loca in the Oregon summer. Who wants to blog when I can be outside, at concerts, golfing, hiking and…

Yes Dr. Gorski. I did agree to write an entry every other Friday. Yes Dr. Gorski. I know you have the documentation. Yes Dr. Gorski, I do not want any of that information made public. No one needs to know that I wanted to be a naturopath when I was young. Sigh. Yes, Sir, I will get to blogging. Damn those youthful indiscretions. Let’s see how little I can do and meet my obligations with the powers that be.

My professional career is based upon inflicting death, and in my time I  have obliterated uncountable numbers of unicellular organisms. If there were such a thing as Karma, I would certainly return in the next life as a rabbit in a syphilis lab. But there isn’t, and I can kill and kill with a clean soul. There is no guilt or hesitation in killing unicellular life, or even multi-cellular life, as long as it cannot be seen without a microscope. I start to get a wee bit squeamish as soon as I can see a life form. I tend to not kill bugs or animals, unless, of course, they can be eaten. If it tastes good, all bets are off. But as a tree hugger, I tend to look upon killing wildlife and extinctions as a bad thing.

Well, maybe. I am glad that smallpox and rinderpest are no more, but they are viri* and not really life. I would not be saddened to see the end of polio, measles, or many of the other diseases that plague mankind. Extinction of organisms whose sole ‘purpose’ is to sicken and kill humans would be, I would think, a good thing. As life gets more complicated, the unease with extermination grows. Except for the dogs in my neighborhood, but that is really irresponsible dog owners (a redundant phrase) and not the barking vermin.

Mosquitoes have been a bane on humans since the beginning of time. It has been estimated that half of everyone who ever died has died of malaria. There are the other mosquito borne infections that kill and sicken: West Nile, Yellow Fever, Dengue, the various hemorrhagic fevers. I think mosquito borne illnesses have left more evolutionary footprints in our DNA than any other illness, from sickle cell disease to G-6-PD deficiency. And wildlife, without ready access to netting and DEET, suffers more. The world would be a better place without those blood sucking insects.

Well maybe. Bug Girl was kind enough to point me to an article that suggests that, unfortunately, mosquitoes, even the blood sucking mosquitos, may have an important niche in the ecosystem as food, if not as blood suckers. I will mention here a bit of skeptical heresy, but I was never that enthralled with Cosmos. Most science shows elicit ‘a tell me something I don’t know’ response. My PBS epiphanies were Shock of the New (an art show?!?) and Connections. Actions always have unintended consequences and mosquitoes probably have many under-recognized connections with their environment. No good deed goes unpunished, so getting rid of all 3500 species of mosquitoes would undoubtedly be a bad thing, but controlling or eradicating the few that are responsible for so much human death and disease would be a net benefit.  In medicine sometimes there are no good solutions, just the least bad solution.  What is worse?  A million humans dead a year or the end of Aedes aegypti? As the experiment with DDT demonstrated, eradication of mosquitoes is probably impossible, but control? Probably.

Dengue, along with other infections, is coming north. Dengue has been reported in the Florida Keys and at least 40% of people in Brownsville Texas are seropositive for dengue.  It is one of many infections that may  infect or reinfest the US as the world warms. If we could control mosquitos, we could decrease the chances of the spread of dengue and other infections.

There have been some clever approaches to the control of infections. Mansonella perstans, a parasite that causes filariasis, can be controlled by killing bacterial endosymbionts found in their gut with doxycycline. Another way to control infection spread is the use of mutant mosquitos. One slick approach is to release sterile males into the environment. If the females mate with the sterile males, then they lay sterile eggs. They used to release irradiated mosquitoes, but now they render the males sterile with genetic modifications. It is, by the way, very difficult to perform vasectomies on mosquitoes.

The nice thing about mosquitoes is they are homebodies, staying close to where they are were born. If you release a swarm of  of sterile males into a local environment, the females mate with sterile males and viola, no children. And the effects are limited to the local environment. Sound like a good approach for other species as well.

It appears to work. When sterile males are mixed with a wild population, there is an 80% drop in the mosquito population. That can only be a good thing.

To my mind it is the perfect way to control mosquitos: no spraying of chemicals, no side effects and, perhaps unfortunately, no permanent eradication of the mosquitoes. And since it is a local application of sterile males (only females, by the way, feed on blood)  there is little impact on wild populations, where the bugs can breed to be a continued food supply and repopulate human habits, requiring repeat treatments. Good for bottom line.

They want to try this approach in Florida and, what a surprise, over 100,000 people have signed a petition to prevent the release of the GM mosquitos. Why?

First, people do not want to be guinea pigs, from what I am not certain.

“”Have there been studies of what can happen if someone is bit by one of these mosquitoes?” said Key West realtor Mila de Mier. “Are we the subjects, the guinea pigs of this experiment?””

Male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which is what is modified,  do not bite, only females. Unless they are making homosexual mosquitoes as part of a government conspiracy. That would be just like the government. So there should be no bites from gm mosquitoes.

Of course there is always the worry about being bitten by a mutant insect. Think Peter Parker, although Bug Girl has written the definitive essay on what should happen if you are bitten by a radioactive spider. Imagine what would happen if you were bitten by a genetically modified gay male mosquitoes. It makes web shooters pale into insignificance.

The other worry is ‘a Jurassic Park event happening in the Keys.“ In Jurassic Park the dino DNA was extracted from a preserved mosquito and cloned to make new dinos. So a Jurassic Park event would be what: someone would clone the DNA from the blood in the gut of a mosquito to make what? More Floridians? With a Presidential election coming up, that is scary indeed with packs of voters unable to read a ballot or punch out a chad.

There is also the worry about the environmental impact of killing off large amounts of mosquitos, and that could be a real concern. That, to my mind, is the tricky one, and it is an interesting calculus: how much animal life are you willing to kill to decrease human suffering and death? But that is a political-ethical, not a scientific, question.

The science of sterile mosquitos would point to a safe and clever way to decrease the vector of many of the infections that kill and sicken humans with little downside.

The drive against the GM mosquitoes seems based on fear of government, fear of science and fear of biting gay mosquitos and a lack of understanding of the biology of mosquitoes and an appreciation of how rapidly infections can spread in a community if they can gain a proboscis hold. It looks like the ethic of the Natural News is more widespread than I had suspected.

I write this essay on my front porch and I have to stop now and then to slap a mosquito. We have yet to have West Nile in Oregon, and I have been predicting a small epidemic for about 5 years now. Still hasn’t happened, and I am uncertain why. I like to credit the superior beer for keeping the virus and mosquitoes at bay. Perhaps those in the Keys should make note.

Can I go back to playing Dr. Gorski? Please?

* the plural of Elvis is Elvi, so the plural of virus is viri. What is the pleural of empyema?

Posted in: Basic Science, Humor

Leave a Comment (37) ↓

37 thoughts on “Jurassic Farce

  1. windriven says:

    ” the plural of Elvis is Elvi, so the plural of virus is viri. What is the pleural of empyema?”

    Globbets?

  2. Janet Camp says:

    Having just returned from Portland, mosquito-bite free, to humid Milwaukee (soon to be swarming with them now it’s finally rained), I find this very timely in that I heard a report on the same subject (NPR?) as I wandered through the Badlands. A Florida woman was interviewed and made quite a plea for the safety of her innocent children who she felt would surely be harmed by the evil GM mosquitoes. The journalist had no follow-up questions for her, just gave her the platform and left the public to “make up their own minds”. No scientist was interviewed; the piece seemed only to be about the protest, not the method of control or the dangers of the diseases to be prevented.

    So, in case I run into one of these loons (and I seem prone to such collisions), thanks for the excellent rebuttal points. We have great beer here now, as well (it took a while to get back to our roots after years of Miller Lite dominance), so “cheers” as I raise my Riverwest Stein to you and your fair city.

  3. David Gorski says:

    No one needs to know that I wanted to be a naturopath when I was young.

    Nice try. You know we have a lot more on you than just that. :-)

  4. daedalus2u says:

    The adverse effects on the ecosystem are likely to be nil. These mosquitoes are exotic, that is they are not native to Florida.

    A similar technique was used to eradicate the screw fly but using male flies sterilized by radiation. Mosquitoes are too wimpy for that to work.

    They need emphasize that these mosquitoes are illegal invaders, and being Aedes aegypti, they are Egyptian.

    Lets see, illegal invaders from Egypt spreading death and disease while they replicate by drinking the precious bodily fluids of true Americans. What are the real motives of those who want to allow these illegal Egyptian invaders to continue and ultimately to win?

  5. DugganSC says:

    I suspect that part of the problem is that we can point to any number of well-meaning attempts to tamper with nature that have gone badly in the past. Yes, we’re a lot better at it than the days when we imported animals wholesale from our origin countries to control the native pests, but there will be an uphill battle against history to get people to trust them. :) Honestly, when I looked at it, my first conspiracy theory was more along the lines of “See, these companies want to introduce a solution that requires buying more product from them every year instead of a permanent solution that they only get paid for once” but I guess I’m a different flavor of nut.

  6. ConspicuousCarl says:

    I write this essay on my front porch and I have
    to stop now and then to slap a mosquito.

    Only when I got to this sentence did I realize that this post would have been so much fun if I had read it while imagining the good doctor sitting on his porch in a white suit and hat and doing a voice over in a southern accent as he wrote.

  7. daedalus2u says:

    When the similar technique was used on screw flies

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochliomyia

    It was very effective and resulted in eradication. Ongoing release of sterile males was not required.

    I guess the difference was that screw flies had an economic impact by affecting cattle.

    Dengue fever carrying mosquitoes only affect humans.

  8. mousethatroared says:

    Firstly, didn’t you guys see Mimic? Gaint cockroaches that mimic humans Then kill them is nothing to scoff at. Scientists with good intentions are a very dangerous thing in the horror movie genre.

    Also, I heard about the field trials of this awhile back on Science Friday. They also mentioned another GM mosquito method that actually killed the females.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/11/04/142024622/mosquitoes-engineered-to-kill-their-own-kind

    I guess my main concern would be the environmental, mosquitoes as a food source for bats, birds, fish etc. I would want to know what steps had been taken for consideration of the impact on Everglades species.

    I thought I remembered that both of the GM mosquito projects had a pretty quick recovery time. Meaning that they did not kill all the mosquitos of that species in the area. They just significantly reduced numbers. When the interventions were stopped, number of mosquitoes started rising pretty quickly. But that’s not in the transcript, maybe you have to listen to the audio.

    One angle that the fresh air segment discusses is the difference in community outreach and different steps taken during fields trials. Oxitec seemed to be have less community outreach and released insects into the wild, while the other outfit (I can’t find the name) used large mosquito cages for field trials.

    Sure, people can be stupid, but making an effort to educate the public and having some tranparancy and accountability in safety and environmental standards for new technology might be helpful in alleviating people’s fears. Maybe that is all going on in FL, though. I haven’t been following it.

  9. Galadriel says:

    Is there a competing petition? One that is FOR the release of these modified mosquitoes? Because I really, really don’t want dengue to keep creeping closer to me.

  10. Biomencer says:

    Yeah mozzies are a necessary evil when it comes to the ecosystem, after all they are a primary food source for bats, and bats are awesome. However, if it prevents the death and suffering of people, I am all for mosquito genocide.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but arn’t most disease carrying species of mosquitos in the US non-native? Therefore by decreasing their population through the GM strategies described, you are giving a chance for native species to reestablish themselves, returning the ecosystem to a more ‘natural’ state. Disease causing mozzies die, and the non disease carrying natives take their place, and the fishes, bats and other animals still see no decrease in their food source.

    Has anyone heard of strategies in which the Mosquitos are modified so that they are no longer able to host the disease causing parasite, rather than just making them infertile?

  11. Dr Evil says:

    I want ill-tempered, genetically modified mosquitoes with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads. Is that too much to ask?

  12. mousethatroared says:

    MC “There is no guilt or hesitation in killing unicellular life, or even multi-cellular life, as long as it cannot be seen without a microscope. I start to get a wee bit squeamish as soon as I can see a life form. I tend to not kill bugs or animals, unless, of course, they can be eaten. If it tastes good, all bets are off. But as a tree hugger, I tend to look upon killing wildlife and extinctions as a bad thing.”

    On the above topic… this is a stupid story, but it’s Friday afternoon and comments will probably drop off, so what the heck.

    Recently my dermatologist notified me of a positive Anti-Nuclear Antibody test. Since I have auto-immune thyroid disease I wasn’t that worried until my GP called the ANA titer “compelling evidence of a systemic autoimmune disease” or some such and referred me to the a Rhuematologist*. Then I got anxious. I’ve found it useful in the past to name critters that frighten me…the large garden spiders that lived in my garage were named Gertrude and Harry, which made them non-threatening enough to scootch past on the way to my car.

    Since I could not individually name the antibodies (With a titer of 1:1280 how many names would I need?…I’m not sure, but I’m guessing it’s a lot of names) I decided to just call them the Sex Pistols. This made me quite happy until I started to feel guilty at the idea of taking immune suppressing medications and killing off my own personal population of Sex Pistols. I mean, it’s not their fault that their behavior is violent and misdirected, right?

    Lesson, if one wants to continue killing without guilt, do not name those destructive micro-organisms.

    *The Rhuematologist did confirm that the positive ANA could be my thyroid, so probably no worries now.

  13. tmac57 says:

    I once met a girl from Empyema…she had such an infectious laugh…I tried to forget her but I was abscessed…
    my chest still aches thinking about that time…sigh…(cough) ouch!!!

  14. Chris says:

    Galadrial:

    Is there a competing petition? One that is FOR the release of these modified mosquitoes? Because I really, really don’t want dengue to keep creeping closer to me.

    I second that emotion. I have had dengue fever, and there is a reason it is called bone-break fever. And I can get it again, with the much higher chance of the hemorrhagic version:

    Dengue hemorrhagic fever occurs when a person catches a different type dengue virus after being infected by another one sometime before. Prior immunity to a different dengue virus type plays an important role in this severe disease.

    Die, squeeters! Die! Or more accurately: Fail to reproduce mozzies! .

  15. Donna B says:

    Hey Mark,
    I was just outside with my kids and thought of this post because, despite generously spraying myself in straight DEET (okay, it was just Bug OFF), I still got 3 mosquito bites. Two of them were near my armpits, so I’m pretty sure there was no bug spray there, but one brave soldier got me straight on the shin, where I had sprayed at least 3 times. Are some people especially attractive to mosquitos?

  16. lilady says:

    Couldn’t we have people who are against GM male mosquitoes fit the mosquitoes with tiny condoms or the females with tiny IUDs?

    How about feeding the GM male mosquitoes some Viagra…so that they become alpha males in pursuit of fertile female mosquitoes?

    - Just asking.

  17. BillyJoe says:

    “What is worse? A million humans dead a year or the end of Aedes aegypti? ”

    What is worse? An exploding population of humans or the odd swarm of Aedes aegypti?

  18. BillyJoe says:

    M: “I mean, it’s not their fault that their behavior is violent and misdirected, right?’

    Right. Leave that homocidal axe murderer alone. It’s not his fault he was misdirected. :D

  19. the bug guy says:

    M: “I guess my main concern would be the environmental, mosquitoes as a food source for bats, birds, fish etc. I would want to know what steps had been taken for consideration of the impact on Everglades species.”

    The targeted species, Aedes aegypti, is not an important food source for bats or fish. They are what are called “container breeders”, meaning that the females lay eggs in very small containers of water, in nature, things like tree holes. There are no fish there. They are also primarily day-active, so that they are not a food source for bats. (Even night-active mosquitoes are only a single-digit fraction of a bat’s regular diet).

    In the Everglades, Aedes taeniorhynchus is the most common day-active mosquito and would not be affected by this release at all.

    With control of Ae. aegypti, we could see it replaced by Ae. albopictus (the Asian Tiger mosquito, another introduced species), which is what has happened in most of the Florida peninsula already.

  20. mousethatroared says:

    BillyJoe – Well, since I’m against capital punishment, I would prefer to imprison the homicidal axe murderer, unless he is loose in public, in which case killing in self-defense is okay.

    But it’s hard to make the parrellel to auto immune-antibodies. I don’t think there’s any medication equvilants to life in prison for antibodies. Even if there was, you have to worry. Are the antibodies being humanly imprisoned? should I provide teeny tiny exercise areas for them? …really it’s just too much work.

    In the end, I find anthropomorphizing threatening microscopic critters just not effective as a anti-anxiety measure. Probably because, unlike garden spiders, some of them are genuinely threatening. As an aside, the point of the anthropomorphizing is not to inform my medical decision making. It’s just a mental device to distract myself from worrying. If for some reason, I needed steroids to prevent organ damage and the risks/benefit was acceptable, I would go ahead, but thinking of the process as the mass murder of my own personal misbehaving punk band would bum me out more than nessasarily.

    Yup, I’m guessing this is not the right crowd for this anecdote. The anthropomorphizing would fly much better with my local (creative type) friends. But then I’d have to describe ANA, titers, autoimmune disease, and field at least one (if not more) suggestion on how eliminating wheat, or exercising more or some vitamin may solve all my problems.

    Sorry, I’m wildly off topic now. I’ll stop.

  21. mousethatroared says:

    @the big guy – Thanks! I actually took a little time to look at the petition in question and some other concerns that have been expressed by EcoNexus in the UK and ETC group in Canada and it left me feeling like the topic is a bit more nuanced than a bunch of ill-informed citizens with a knee jerk reaction against anything GM.

    here’s the EcoNexus, ETC link I came across.
    http://www.scidev.net/en/news/gm-mosquito-wild-release-takes-campaigners-by-surprise.html
    One of the people expressing concern in the article is a genetist for EcoNexus who expresses concerned that Oxitec’s Cayman release may not have complied with the the Cartagena Protocol.

    Is this geneticist anti-science? Is the Cartagena Protocol anti-science? I really don’t know enough about the topic. But I’ not willing to assume that just because some of the critics of this project are loons that they ALL are.

    This is not to say I’m against GM mosquitos in general, but I don’t feel I have enough information to make a pro or con judgement on this particular project.

    I had written a rather lengthy comment with some of my concerns, but urgggh, iPad lost power and I lost it.

    Most folks here are much better at research than I am. After reading the petition and doing a little reading on criticisms of the project, does no one else see a plausible reason for concern?

  22. mousethatroared says:

    Oh sorry, that last comment was meant to be addressing readers in general as well as The Big Guy.

  23. daedalus2u says:

    I don’t see any plausible reasons for concern. They are only releasing sterile males. Males don’t bite.

    The mosquito is not native, so there are no native species that depend on it exclusively for food or anything else. This control technique has far fewer environmental effects than alternate control methods; habitat destruction by swamp draining or insecticides.

    If the local exotic population was eradicated, it could always be reintroduced from regions where it is native and endemic.

  24. mousethatroared says:

    DU2 – did you at least read the petition or the link I provided?

  25. weing says:

    I have a love-hate relationship with mosquitoes. I hate them and they love me. The sooner we get rid of them, the better.

  26. Chris says:

    I wonder how many bites I will get when I lie in my hammock on the deck to look at the meteor shower. Hopefully I’ll see a few bats, they tend to start their hunt by swooping over my deck.

  27. daedalus2u says:

    MTR, I did. It was almost 2 years ago. None of the adverse effects mentioned were credible. Some were not even possible.

    I even looked at the Cartagena Protocol.(but not carefully). It is mostly about process, and it seems like the process was followed. Using the “precautionary principle” is not really a science based criteria because people can simply imagine dire consequences which can’t happen and then use that as an excuse to not allow it. It is like GM maize in Europe. There are no wild plants in Europe that can cross-pollinate with maize. Virtually all maize is hybrid, which means it must be replanted from fresh seed every year. Maize does not self-seed. Without human intervention maize would go extinct in a couple of years.

    What is the alternative? Let people die of dengue fever?

    These tests are not about full-on eradication. They are field tests using organisms that can’t reproduce and will die in a few weeks. The tests are in isolated islands. If the test did result in eradication, the mosquitoes could be reintroduced.

    I have heard no credible adverse effects and can’t imagine any for myself. The only one I can think of is that it puts people like Dr Crislip out of work. As much as I like Dr Crislip, that is not a good enough reason to not save lives.

  28. BillyJoe says:

    Michelle,

    Yes, it doesn’t matter if it’s not their fault. If they kill they must be killed or restrained in some way to protect the host or the public as the case may be. If there’s no free will, there’s no blame anyway, but that doesn’t mean the public is not entitled to protect themselves. Certainly antibodies don’t have free will. Do they? Sometimes I wonder when I hear certain scientists talk about the antics of bacterial colonies.

    BTW, I found it interesting that you correctly sensed that an elevated ANA titre did not mean much in the setting of your already existing autoimmune thyroiditis (right?) and certainly not if you had no symtoms of other autoimmune diseases such as joint pain (right?). It seems you had a better understanding of this than your GP. Luckily the rheumatologist was able to reassure you.

  29. Badly Shaved Monkey says:

    * the plural of Elvis is Elvi, so the plural of virus is viri. What is the pleural of empyema?

    I suspect it is empyemata

    But was “viola” deliberate?

  30. the bug guy says:

    MT: I read the linked article and it doesn’t look like Ricarda Steinbrecher of EcoNexus said that it violated the Cartagena Protocol, but that it wasn’t mentioned at a meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. From my quick look at the Protocol, this doesn’t look like a violation since the release was approved by the Cayman Islands government.

    You can’t automatically assume that a scientist does not have particular anti-science or odd beliefs. In a plant pathology lab, I once had a coworker Biologist who was also a Young Earth Creationist. In this case, there is insufficient information to make even a guess.

    As for the Change.org petition, it is also not convincing about concerns. From the intentionally misleading graphic to the distorted science claiming almost all gm experiments have unintended consequences or that there could be a MRSA-like mutation of the pathogen. Mosquitoes are not an important food source for bats. Bats are generalist insectivores that eat a wide range of prey, with studies showing mosquitoes in the single digit percents of gut contents.

    The only part that makes sense is that Ae. albopictus might replace Ae. aegypti in the Florida Keys, as the species did years ago in the rest of the Florida peninsula. But from a public health standpoint, there is not a big change in risk between the species beyond variances in vector competence. Both of these Aedes species are exotic imports that have displaced native container-breeding mosquitoes.

    Container-breeding mosquitoes are some of the most difficult to control. In the Keys, for example, there are millions of potential larval habitats that they can use, from fallen leaves to tires to soda cans. It is just impossible to cover all of these via a larval control program. Public education programs to get residents to empty containers are valuable, but also not a complete solution. Because of their behavior, adulticiding is a last-ditch effort that produces only very local results and often for only a short time.

    From what I can see, it looks like Oxitech is taking a step-by-step approach to develop this technology into what may be an effective tool for mosquito control. Sterile male releases have been successfully used in control efforts for over 50 years. This is a more precise and control way to produce the sterile males.

    For disclosure, I am an entomologist with 13 years experience in academic research on aquatic Diptera and 3 years supervising a mosquito control program.

  31. mousethatroared says:

    BillyJoe
    “Yes, it doesn’t matter if it’s not their fault. If they kill they must be killed or restrained in some way to protect the host or the public as the case may be. If there’s no free will, there’s no blame anyway, but that doesn’t mean the public is not entitled to protect themselves. Certainly antibodies don’t have free will. Do they? Sometimes I wonder when I hear certain scientists talk about the antics of bacterial colonies.”

    HeHe, BillyJoe, you are thinking about it more than me and I tend to think to much. :) No, free will doesn’t matter-the ultimate decision point is whether the organism (person) is helpful or harmful…but of course it’s never that easy. I need my antibodies a lot more than I need the average axe murderer…Of course when it comes to human free will we have all those social considerations which make dealing with criminal more cromlech carted than dealing with antibodies (glad I don’t have to find my antibodies a jury of their peers).

    “BTW, I found it interesting that you correctly sensed that an elevated ANA titre did not mean much in the setting of your already existing autoimmune thyroiditis (right?) and certainly not if you had no symtoms of other autoimmune diseases such as joint pain (right?). It seems you had a better understanding of this than your GP. Luckily the rheumatologist was able to reassure you.”

    Ehhh…. Sorry, I left out big parts of the story for brevity. I have to wait and see if the ANA doesn’t mean much I have symptoms that can be associated with some autoimmune diseases, possible sun sensitive rash, raynaud’s, pretty intense shortness of breath and fatigue with exertion…but NOT the hallmarks of the diseases, joint pain, low grade fever, hardening skin…

    It seems to me, my GP was trying to give me a good reason to hold off on a trial predisone burst (for the SOB) so the Rhuematologist could get accurate blood tests. The Rhuematologist was trying to give me a good reason to not get too attached to the autoimmune diagnoses, cause the ANA might be a red herring. I might have something non-autoimmune causing the SOB, fatigue.

    What I wouldn’t do for one of those Star Trek doctors with their instant reliable scanning devices. :)

    Sorry, increasingly off topic and TMI – but I didn’t want to be unfair to my GP, As far as I could see at this point, she has handled things correctly and still knows more than me (in the medical field, at least) ;)

  32. Radioactive male gay mosquito bites don’t bother me. This bit is actually terrifying: “So a Jurassic Park event would be what: someone would clone the DNA from the blood in the gut of a mosquito to make what? More Floridians? With a Presidential election coming up, that is scary indeed with packs of voters unable to read a ballot or punch out a chad.”

    I might need both a sleep aid and anti-anxiety medication moving forward.

  33. mousethatroared says:

    @ The bug guy. Firstly, sorry for calling you “the big guy”, middle age eyesight fail here.

    Also, sorry for the delay in response, I replied yesterday, but once again lost power on my iPad and lost everything.

    Your responses are exactly the kind of answers I was looking for to make me feel more comfortable with such a project. Because the decline in mosquito population seemed so large and rapid (not sure if any other interventions are comparable?) it just seemed like someone should be analizing the environmental impact, food chain, the possibility of the niche being filled by a worse or more invasive pest…that sort of thing. Of course, any education I have in that area, I learned in high school a long time ago, so I don’t even know what wold need to be considered.

    If I was living in the area, I think I would be content with the project If I could see some sort of formal environmental impact analysis from a third party and a formal outline of safety procedures (how does the company insure that they are releasing the correct mosquitos, not…whoops “those were the fertile males, you idiot!”). Since the company would have already come up with the safety process, documenting and sharing it with the public shouldn’t be a problem.

    There’s a good chance this has been done in the area and some folks are being paranoid and just won’t believe the third party analysis but I haven’t got a chance to look into it. Or maybe that is part of the FDA approval process.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer questions. It’s good to here from an expert on the topic.

  34. the bug guy says:

    You’re welcome.

  35. MOI says:

    I’m wondering if Dr. Crislip had misread what was going on with these mosquitoes. A friend of mine read this article and did a little searching. She stated that the male mosquitoes aren’t sterile but their offspring die in the larval stage. She cited this NY Times article and quoted the following: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/31/science/concerns-raised-about-genetically-engineered-mosquitoes.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    “”Oxitec has created Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the species that is the main transmitter of the dengue and yellow fever viruses, containing a gene that will kill them unless they are given tetracycline, a common antibiotic.

    In the lab, with tetracycline provided, the mosquitoes can be bred for generations and multiplied. Males are then released into the wild, where tetracycline is not available. They live long enough to mate but their progeny will die before adulthood.”

    Tetracycline isn’t something you’d normally come across in the wild, but it is something found on factory farms as it is given to the livestock. If the larval mosquitoes come into contact with it, they will survive and live to pass on this gene and perhaps bite humans. What the consequences of that are, I don’t know and is something I am not all that concerned about. However, it are these points that Crislip seemed to have missed.

  36. That mentality of “we need to control or eliminate” treats to humans are totally flawed. We were the first treat to their s environment in the first place when perturb the natural “balance”of the ecosystem. That happened so many times in history that just few word can’t describe the magnitude of this phenomenon. Humans tend to think that we are in control of every single thing in the universe, and when sth get wrong we blame any other thing. Such as devils or virus and etc

    Dengue is spreading because we dramatically change the way we live on the recently decades. The main concerns are that we are living in crowded cities, many times with poor sewage system. The global warm tend to increase the areas that the mosquito can live. As a result many places that have never seen this mosquito, are suffering with tropical disease

    Don’t get me wrong, but this disease and others neglected diseases, are not a new concern here on an undeveloped world. Bill and melinda foundation is helping a lot this days, but i don’t see the same concern of developed world to these issues. No until they get hit by the same problem, maybe in that way we can have new drugs and methods to control theses bugs.

    Ps: I Lived in Key West for while

  37. Bacteriaphile says:

    I believe the “Jurassic Park” scenario was not referring to the cloning of dinos from a mosquito blood meal, but rather to the filling in of genome gaps with frog DNA, which allowed the dinosaurs (which were not supposed to be able to reproduce) to mutate somehow into a state in which they could reproduce somehow. Something like that. I’m not clear on the details; I think maybe I’ve seen the movie all the way through once.

    Anyway, the point is, nature is not always predictable, so putting mysterious genetic material into the wild may result in unwanted consequences somehow. That’s the fear, I would guess.

    I still don’t think it would be more bothersome than mosquitoes already are, though.

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