Comments on Profile Post by Stone Cold Robert House

  1. Stone Cold Robert House
    Stone Cold Robert House
    So you know, considering how people in general react to whatever surprise outbreak is latest, I'm thinking it's a great time to start spreading the idea that public health officials need to be focusing on vectors of disease and not just developing cures and vaccines. For many diseases (including the zika virus, which has been discussed in recent status updates) it will most likely take years for one to be...
    Feb 15, 2016
  2. Stone Cold Robert House
    Stone Cold Robert House
    ... available, if ever. And of course, this isn't the last surprise epidemic the world will face. But mosquito eradication can begin *today*. It may seem like a drastic step to some, but selecting certain species of disease carrying mosquitoes for total eradication will save MILLIONS of lives in the future. We will never get ahead of all the pathogens that could potentially lead to epidemics and...
    Feb 15, 2016
  3. Stone Cold Robert House
    Stone Cold Robert House
    ... pandemics. We can, however, make it permanently less likely that we will be infected by many of those pathogens in the future. I am obviously not talking about all mosquitoes - that level of extinction would have unpredictable consequences. But there are two genres of mosquito (out of the dozens that exist) which we are interested in destroying - Anopheles and Aedes aegypti. Anopheles transmits...
    Feb 15, 2016
  4. Stone Cold Robert House
    Stone Cold Robert House
    ... malaria, which kills 0.6 - 1.2 million people per year. Aedes aegypti transmit zika virus, dengue fever, and yellow fever. There are some very promising proposals out there to eradicate those two while leaving other mosquitoes alone. The other mosquitoes would fill the gap, and all animals that eat mosquitoes are perfectly fine with that. So we could wipe out these diseases with little to no impact on nature.
    Feb 15, 2016
  5. zegh8578
    zegh8578
    Not a bad idea in itself, except one point you mention yourself - the overall consequences are unknown - the second is, how would we specifically exterminate one type of mosquito? Haven't humanity tried this with a ton of pests, and always end up killing, well... everything in that vicinity? We humans generally like to kill our problems, so why has this not allready been tried?
    Feb 15, 2016
  6. Stone Cold Robert House
    Stone Cold Robert House
    Wrong on both accounts. First, this isn't the 1970s where we can only spray pesticides and hope it works - nowadays, we have genetic engineering, and VERY effective techniques like releasing sterile males of the species in question, and since females only mate with them once they end up not reproducing at all.
    Feb 15, 2016
  7. Stone Cold Robert House
    Stone Cold Robert House
    Second, this HAS been tried, and *it works*. It's just not been done on a larger scale because it's expensive to make those mosquitoes (and thus takes more time) but if there was an international investment into it, that would quickly become a non-issue.
    Feb 15, 2016
  8. Stone Cold Robert House
    Stone Cold Robert House
    Also. Mosquitoes don't really interact with the ecosystem by pollinating or anything like that. They don't control another species population. And their biomass is so small they really aren't sustaining...
    Feb 15, 2016
  9. Stone Cold Robert House
    Stone Cold Robert House
    ... any other species - animals that have them as part of their diet, like bats, mostly eat flies and other, harmless mosquito types. The two genres I mentioned are some of the few species that could go extinct with literally no negative ecological impact, and MASSIVE benefits to human society.
    Feb 15, 2016
  10. zegh8578
    zegh8578
    Huh, so it comes down to something as silly as cost. It always does... (this - mark my words - will be what prevents us from ever exploring space, even if it came down to salvation of humanity: cost!) Do you have specific examples of deliberately exterminated host animal species? Local extinction, or complete?
    Feb 15, 2016
  11. Stone Cold Robert House
    Stone Cold Robert House
    Back when the Panama Canal was being constructed, one of the most extensive sanitary campaigns in history was conducted in order to prevent mosquitoes from depositing their eggs, vastly reducing malaria and eradicating yellow fever from the region. That's the biggest example I can think of.
    Feb 15, 2016
    zegh8578 likes this.
  12. zegh8578
    zegh8578
    Malaria is still a gigantic killer though, but I guess it would be worth the attempt to at least try something similar, as in localized erradications. Complete erradication would be humongously ambitious, especially since one would sabotage only small percentages of each years reproductions :I
    Feb 15, 2016
  13. Stone Cold Robert House
    Stone Cold Robert House
    Absolutely. The biggest obstacle is that these things take a lot of time and effort. Look at the Gates foundation - amazing work, eradicating multiple diseases all over the world, but it's not just because they have a lot of money, but because they work smart and know what they're doing. If we want results, that's exactly what we need, not just money, but a lot of dedication, planning and intelligence.
    Feb 15, 2016