Published: 12:08, September 20, 2022 | Updated: 12:08, September 20, 2022
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Authorities: Eliminating mosquitoes not feasible
By Wang Xiaoyu

Though many would argue for eliminating all mosquitoes, their total eradication is neither feasible nor sensible at present, according to authorities and experts.

In response to a national legislator's proposal to eradicate the pesky and disease-carrying insect, the National Health Commission said recently that more efforts will be devoted to developing "environmentally friendly, sustainable and economical "mosquito-control technologies.

But the goal would be to "suppress the density of mosquitoes "and improve people's overall living environments, the commission said in a statement released on its website on Sept 13.

Mosquitoes are one of the most commonly known vectors, including sand flies, ticks and fleas, that are responsible for transmitting a wide range of parasites and pathogens that attack humans and animals.

The commission said that China has established a nationwide monitoring network for vectors, including nearly 1,100 national-level monitoring checkpoints. These platforms have provided crucial evidence for evaluating risks of vector-borne diseases, issuing early alerts and deploying mosquito repellents.

"The epidemic of key vector-borne contagious diseases in China has registered a downward trend in recent years," it said.

Mosquitoes can carry potentially fatal maladies such as dengue and Zika virus. As the deadliest animal in the world, causing over 1 million deaths each year, mosquitoes present a special challenge for Chinese researchers.

The commission said that China has made breakthroughs in developing automated and high-efficiency vector sampling devices, rapid testing methods for mosquito-borne pathogens, as well as research on its vectorial capacity-an indicator of the vector's potential for transmitting a disease.

"However, overall progress in innovative technologies to control mosquitoes remains weak," it said.

Worldwide, a number of discoveries to boost anti-malaria efforts are in the pipeline, according to the World Health Organization.

A company in the United States has developed an outdoor bait station featuring pouches containing a sugary mix with insecticide to attract and kill mosquitoes. It is now being tested in Mali, Zambia and Kenya, said the WHO.

Another intriguing avenue is to make genetic modifications to mosquitoes to reduce their capacity for disease transmission. They will then be released into the wild to pass on their changes to other mosquitoes.

Dong Yande, a microbial epidemiologist and a member of the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association, said during a speech online in December that for the public, the most effective method to prevent the proliferation of mosquitoes is to get rid of stagnant water where mosquitoes tend to gather and breed.

In China, as part of its Patriotic Health campaign-a movement initiated in the 1950s to promote public health awareness and battle pests-authorities have focused on improving the handling of garbage and sewage, as well as improving hygiene in neighborhoods, markets and public toilets.

The commission said that future efforts will primarily target regulation of the environment, while vector control chemicals will also be delivered as a complementary approach.

Gu Jinbao, a professor at Southern Medical University's Institute of Tropical Medicine, said during an interview with media outlet, that killing off mosquitoes is not necessary and could bring undesirable effects.

Mosquitoes' role in the biological chain is unclear, and eradicating them might give rise to a new species to fill the gap left behind and trigger a series of unknown effects, he said.