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Trinidad and Tobago may use GM mosquitoes to fight Chikungunya

San Juan, Nov 6 (EFE).- The government of Trinidad and Tobago may buy genetically modified mosquitoes in a bid to reduce the population of mosquitoes that spread dengue fever and the Chikungunya virus in the territories, the Trinidad Express reported Thursday.

Health Minister Fuad Khan said the final decision will depend mostly on consideration of cost, according to the newspaper.

The proposal targets the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the main vector for spreading dengue – endemic to the Caribbean – and the Chikungunya virus, which arrived in the New World only recently.

The idea is to release males whose genes have been modified so that when they mate with females, the resulting eggs contain a protein that prevents the young mosquitoes from reaching adulthood.

Created in Britain in 2002, the technique has been implemented successfully in Brazil and the Cayman Islands, Khan said.

Brazil’s first facility to produce GM mosquitoes opened in July.

Trinidad and Tobago had 96 confirmed Chikungunya cases as of Oct. 31, according to the latest report from the Caribbean Public Health Agency.