Genetically-modified mosquitos have skeptics in Florida

Sterilized mosquitos could do the trick

TAMPA, Fla. - Brinnie Lane isn't letting mosquitos stop her from enjoying fishing with her son and grandson at Al Lopez Park. 

"I spray myself with spray, and if I see them, that's the way I keep me off of me," Lane said.

Even with news of mosquito-borne illnesses like Dengue fever and Chikungunya in the area, Lane thinks Florida is already doing a good job controlling the mosquito population.

"They're not that bad out here," Lane said. 

But a company in England is promising a more effective alternative: Genetically-modified mosquitos.

"What it is is a laboratory mosquito where the males are made sterile," said 
Thomas Unnasch, chair of USF's Department of Global Health. 

They could do the trick, Unnasch said, but he has his doubts.

"The real issue here is when you produce these sterile mosquitos you have to keep releasing them because they're sterile males," he said. "So if you were going to do this in Key West, for example, you would have to do this year after year after year -- releasing large numbers of sterile mosquitos."

That would likely cost millions with little public support, he said.

"The idea of genetically-modified anything is kind of frightening to people," Unnasch said.

That's not something Lane would look forward to during an outing at the park.

"I definitely would wear long sleeves and long pants and all that if they were here," she said.

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