By L.J. Devon
The dengue virus, transmitted by mosquitoes, is running rampant in tropical areas around the world. The virus can bring fever, headache, muscle pains, joint pains, rash and bleeding. It can even be deadly. One country, Brazil, has been in a perpetual state of emergency over the past two years because of dengue fever. Over 570 deaths were reported in 2013 alone. The situation is so dire that an entire biotech factory has been erected in Campinas, Brazil, to raise millions of genetically modified mosquitoes. The GM mosquitoes are being sent out into the country to mate with wild female mosquitoes. The offspring of this mating experiment are intended to die before they reach adulthood. This is supposed to reduce the number of dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes through the years, bringing down the infection rate.
Dengue virus vaccine doesn’t grant 100 percent immunity
According to the World Health Organization, a new vaccine is being prepared for 2015 to address dengue fever. Test subjects who were injected at least three times with the experimental vaccine were 88.5 percent less likely to contract the most deadly form of dengue — hemorrhagic fever. The efficacy for preventing dengue fever altogether was 56.5 percent, according to two years’ worth of data from the Philippines’ Department of Health.
While efforts to combat dengue fever on a global scale are noble, they do not come with 100 percent efficacy and reliability. Relying on these biotech methods alone could cause even more deaths, as people shrug off other more important preventive measures up front. On top of that, there might be some unintended consequences derived from releasing millions of genetically altered mosquitoes into nature at large.
Garlic and essential oils reduce contact with mosquitoes
Some of the most powerful measures to combat mosquitoes are found growing in the garden. Garlic is one compound that keeps the insects at bay. The essential oils of lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus and citronella are effective, too. Health officials could help those in dengue-stricken areas by informing all to start growing lemongrass and citronella plants along the outside of dwellings. By disturbing the mosquitoes’ sense of smell, these essential oils can safely and naturally repel the insects, without causing allergic reactions in humans.
Mass production of this simple DIY mosquito trap could reduce dengue virus spread
What might be even more effective are mosquito traps that pull in and kill the pesky disease carriers en masse. Recently, Marynilad Water Services, Inc., won an award in an important health and wellness category at the inaugural Lions Health Awards in Cannes, France. Their creation was a simple DIY mosquito trap. Out of 1,400 entries, their invention was one of 16 awarded a “Bronze Lion” in the competition’s Health and Wellness category.
To make the mosquito trap, one simply has to obtain a plastic water bottle, a small amount of water, a packet of brown sugar and a packet of yeast. According to the visual directions, the top of the bottle is to be cut off and turned upside down, with the drinking hole now facing down inside the bottle. The yeast and brown sugar is added to the small amount of water in the bottle. The mixture of sugar and yeast produces carbon dioxide which emits from the bottle, attracting mosquitoes. Once the mosquitoes go into the bottle, they suffocate and die. For the trap to be effective, the inventors added that the mixture must be replaced every two weeks.
Created en masse, this DIY mosquito trap would be rather effective, reducing the mosquitoes that carry dengue virus, West Nile or any other mosquito-borne illness.
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