Guided Reflection #5

  1. Which method or combination of methods do you think is best to rid the world of mosquito-borne infectious diseases? Evaluate the pros and cons of the method or methods chosen, and pick which method you think would be the most successful.

I think the combination of using the Wolbachia bacteria and overall individual person protection is the best methods of ridding the world of mosquito-borne infectious diseases. First, if each person makes an effort to protect him or herself from being bitten, that is an obvious pro and is effective. The use of bug spray, mosquito nets, and long sleeved clothing are simple but effective methods of reducing infection from being bitten. A few cons of this method are accessibility, education on mosquito safety, and cost. If you are living in an area that is very remote and it takes a lot of effort to get to a location where you could buy these things, they are not going to be high on your priority list. Many families in developing countries barely have enough money to survive, let alone spend that money on unnecessary items like bug spray, nets, etc. Also, many people are not educated on the dangers of mosquitos and mosquito-borne diseases and therefore won’t even know that they should be protecting themselves. A combination of mission-based donations of preventative mosquito measures and education on mosquito safety could increase the effectiveness of this method. Second, the Wolbachia bacteria seem like an effective method. The Wolbachia bacteria are safe for humans but not for mosquitos, making it appropriate to use on mosquitoes even if we were to be bitten by them. Wolbachia can stop the viruses from growing inside the mosquito and being transmitted to people (Frentiu, Zakir, Walker, 2014). The bacteria are also used as a way to stop the reproduction of mosquitos. This approach is releasing only male mosquitoes that have Wolbachia and when they mate with wild female mosquitoes without Wolbachia, they are unable to reproduce. This would control the mosquito population and in turn, help reduce the amount of infectious diseases (Frentiu, Zakir, Walker, 2014). The one con of this method that I can think of is that this would eventually sterilize the population and cause it to die out. If there are no means for the mosquito to reproduce, the species will eventually die out and we lose the few benefits that they do provide and interrupt the food chain. Overall, if I had to pick one, I would say education and individual prevention is the most effective means of controlling the spread of diseases. We do not want to eliminate mosquitoes entirely, and if each person protects him or herself from being bitten we can try and reduce disease.

  1. How do we increase public perception and awareness of mosquito-borne infectious diseases in other countries in order to inspire action?

In order to inspire action about protecting yourself against mosquito-borne infections, it is all about education. I believe that some sort of education initiative abroad would be a great way of increasing awareness and helping those in need. If funding was already taken care of, the first step would be figuring out which prevention methods are the must successful: nets, spray, long clothes, etc. Once we figure that out, we need to provide these resources for those who can’t afford them. In addition to providing these resources, we need to educate the population as to why they are necessary. Many people don’t know that mosquitos can transmit deadly diseases, and so a culture-friendly presentation, pamphlets, etc. would be great. We would explain in an easy to understand way that not all mosquitos are harmful, but it is almost impossible to distinguish an infected one from a healthy one. Therefore, it is vital to treat every mosquito bite carefully. We should also inform them on the symptoms that can come from Dengue, Malaria, Zika, etc. so they know what to look out for and also so that they take the warning seriously. We do not want to scare them but rather educate and prevent potential spreading of disease. Even though we laugh about it, some sort of drop via plane or drone method of administering pamphlets along with spray and/or nets could be great in areas that are hard to access or in a governmental state that we cannot interfere with. Overall, since I believe individual protection is the #1 step towards elimination of disease, I believe everyone should have access to this knowledge and these resources to protect themselves.

Works Cited

Frentiu, Francesca D., Tasnim Zakir, and Thomas Walker. “Limited Dengue Virus Replication in    Field-Collected Aedes Aegypti Mosquitoes Infected with Wolbachia.” PLoS Negl Trop    Dis PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 8.2 (2014): 1-10. Web. 25 May 2016.