Gene-altered mosquito could fight disease

Experiment in Florida could kill off thousands of mosquitoes


KEY WEST, Fla. - Mosquito control officials in the Florida Keys think genetically modified mosquitoes might help lower the risk of dengue fever in Key West.

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to approve an experiment.  It would release hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes that are genetically altered to pass along a birth defect that would kill off their offspring.

Officials say the move would reduce the number of Aedes aegypti mosquitos, a species that can carry dengue fever.

It would be the first such experiment in the United States but similar trials are currently running in Brazil, Malaysia and the Cayman Islands.

Some South Florida residents say they don't want the experiment  out of fear that not enough research has been done to determine the potential risks to the fragile ecosystem.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.