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Mosquito-Killing Virus

Turn-about is fair play!
  [vote for,

Nature is prolific enough that somewhere out there must exist some viruses that are as epidemic-able for mosquitos as Ebola is for humans. We want to create a friendly version of such a virus, that can survive but not reproduce inside the human body. We infect every human with this virus. Then every mosquito-bite will quickly become at least one, and maybe many more, mosquito-deaths!

---In one of my annotations, I indicated an alternative, which nobody seems to have noticed. So I copy it here: Concoct a virus-infested skin lotion. Then we need neither tailored viruses nor injections, to give mosquitoes what they deserve, when they land on us.

Vernon, May 17 2004

(?) A bit smellier than a virus http://www.batcon.org/batsmag/v7n2-5.html
[Ling, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

(?) Mosquito-killing virus could help slow spread of West Nile virus http://mediresource...em_id=&news_id=1172
USDA is already on the case. [phoenix, Oct 04 2004]

Novel Baculovirus, Insecticidal Compositions, and Methods for Control of Invertebrates http://www.ars.usda...m?serial_NO=9345236
[phoenix, Oct 04 2004]


       Ok, who are you really? This is way too short.   

       It is tough to get viruses to just hang out in the body. The immune system gets rid of them. This was one of the problems with bacteriophage therapy - the phages only hurt bacteria, not us. But the immune system does not like viruses, and so it cleaned them up before they could go to work on the bacteria.   

       The idea of biologic counterwarfare could be tested best in areas of endemic sleeping sickness - you could give cattle your test virus.   

       Cake from me for an interesting topic. I would not mind seeing links on this if you have them but were holding back, for some reason.
bungston, May 17 2004

       Nice idea. Perhaps it will be possible to alter the surface of the virus so the immune system is fooled into thinking it's 'one of us'. Also, viruses reproduce by inserting themselves into cells and instructing the cell to make more viruses. So it may be possible to get the virus to insert itself into your bone marrow and start reproducing. As long as there was some way to keep the reproduction rate to a low level, this would ensure a continued abundance of the virus in the bloodstream.
spacemoggy, May 17 2004

       [bungston], yes, I know that the body generally cleans up viruses. However, I specifically stated that we want a type that can survive -- NOT be cleaned up. This might not be feasible though, especially if it involves tailoring the virus for each human body (self-recognition protiens). But perhaps some sort of generic-human-recognition protien might exist and be usable...   

       [spacemoggy], the problem with what you wrote is that ANY ability to reproduce inside the human body will be subject to genetic variation and the possibility of very-bad high-rate reproduction. So, I opt for us having to grow this virus in the lab (what fun to think of all those dying-for-our-good mosquitoes!), after which we accept injection.
Vernon, May 17 2004

       Interesting concept of turn-about againt the mosquitos, but I don't like the idea of fighting mosquitos with a virus, or using humans as the carrier.   

       Even if the virus is fatal to most mosquitos, I'm sure some will survive and reproduce, and eventually we'd have just as many mosquitos, but these would be mostly immune to the virus. Either that or the mosquito would become extinct. That sounds nice, but I don't think it's a really good idea.   

       In addition, designing a virus that can survive the human immune system seems like a VERY dangerous thing to do.
scad mientist, May 17 2004

       It might be easier to design some sort of solar-powered hat that shoots off little arrows when the mosquitoes come into range (also need solar -powered radar device). Or something. C'mon Vernon, get a bit more technical, would you?
lintkeeper2, May 17 2004

       OK, who are you and what have you done with the real Vernon?   

       I have to agree with Scad Mientist on this one. Deliberately creating a virus that can survive the human immune system sounds like a dangerous proposition. All we need is for that virus to mutate to a form that is no longer harmless to us and we 'll have an epidemic of our own to worry about.   

       Besides that, mosquitos and other insects reproduce at such a high rate that there are bound to be some that are born immune to the virus. These will reproduce and we'll be back to square one, except that we now have a new virus everywhere, an a new stock of tougher mosquitos. We've already seen this happen with other insects and pesticides.   

       If we create a virus that's not subject to growth in the human body, we'd need periodic re-injection. Besides that, all this virus would do is prevent mosquitos that bite humans from reproducing. They'd still be capable of spreading whatever diseases they carry before they die.
Freefall, May 17 2004

       This guy needs to flesh out his ideas more thoroughly.   

       (joke - I've seen some of his other work)
Gromit, May 17 2004

       [scad mientist], yes, I am sure that no virus can kill all the mosquitoes. But note how I began the main Idea text with a statement that more than one mosquito-killing virus probably exists. It would be neat if we could do the make-safe-for-humans trick with all of them at the same time.   

       I do doubt that mosquitos will become extinct from this ploy. They exist in vast numbers in places where relatively few humans live (tundra zones in Siberia and northern Canada).   

       Next, I recognize a small possible danger from human-friendly viruses, but mostly am not worried because viruses are pretty specialized in the types of tissue that they want to infect. You are never going to "catch" the tobacco mosaic virus, for example; animal and plant biology is too different. And I think the same will be true of the difference between warm human and cold-insect flesh.   

       Nevertheless, to offer an alternative, how about a virus-infested skin lotion? Then the mosquito merely needs to land on you to get infected, and breeding special variants of the virus may not be needed!   

       [Gromit], I decided to do that in the annotations here.   

       [Freefall], you need to pay more attention to the other long-term consequences of this plan, not to mention what you wrote, mwoo-hoo-hoo-ha-ha-hah! If all mosquitos that bite humans die before breeding, then only mosquitoes that don't bite humans will survive....   

       Next, a mosquito spreads a given human disease by first biting an infected person, and THEN biting an uninfected person. How much time passes between bites? Well, if the first bite fills her up enough, then likely a day or two will pass, while processing the stolen blood into eggs (only female mosquitos want your blood for its iron; males subsist on flower nectar). Given the small size of a mosquito, how long does a mosquito-specific virus need to disable her? Likely LESS than that day or two (and thereby laying-of-eggs is prevented)! Thus it seems reasonable that a mosquito that sips from a human who is infected with BOTH human and mosquito viruses...is a mosquito that is not going to be doing much disease-spreading!
Vernon, May 17 2004

       {scout], it happens that few of the species of mosquitoes target humans. These are the ones that have adapted/learned to land on human skin lightly enough to avoid being swatted before drawing blood. We only need to target human-blood suckers. And to the extent that we want to prevent their extinction, well, that is what frozen-egg repositories are for.   

       Next, Consider that since we want to prevent disease-spreading by removing the mosquito vector, it could be that AFTER we have done that, and the DISEASE is extinct, then we could restore human-blood-sucking mosquitoes, for whatever purpose may be desired (good or evil).   

       Zanzibar, ducks, pigs and humans are all warm-blooed vertebrates. In the hierarchy of biological groupings, there are Kingdoms like plants and animals, Phyla like vertebrates and arthropods, Classes like reptiles and mammals, and so on. There are no viruses that you can catch from the plant kingdom, and while there are a few viruses you can catch from a different Class (ducks), I doubt there are any that you can catch from a different Phylum. Feel free to find a specific example.
Vernon, May 17 2004

       Two comments: first, viruses have very high mutation rates and for sure, something that started out non-harmful would not stay that way. Do viruses also do horizontal transfer of DNA and RNA? Bacteria do - if one gets a new gene for, say, antibiotic resistance, soon they all will have it... If viruses also do it, if you engineer some kind of new "stealth" gene then soon it will have migrated into ebola, HIV, etc etc. Not good.   

       Second, what are the chances that we could come up with something really clever and nasty, that Mother Nature hasn't come with, after millions of years and astronomical numbers of mutations? We can't even look at an average protein and know what it does - how are we going to start improving on the end products of evolution?
wayne606, May 18 2004

       [Zanzibar], OOPS. Thanks! Fixed!
Vernon, May 18 2004

       [wayne606], I was not suggesting doing any mosquito-killing enhancements; I was only suggesting FINDING EXISTING mosquito-killers. The Logic of Nature is such that some MUST exist.
Vernon, May 18 2004

       [vernon -imposter] Quite right, it is statistically likely that there are at least four parasitic (as opposed to pathenogenic) organisms for each species of mosquito.   

       The virus proposed would need to be capable of surviving in not only humans, as we make up only a minute fraction of the food source of any of the mosquito species (or fleas / ticks /lice etc).
ConsulFlaminicus, May 18 2004

       I let my pet Odonata out every evening, on it's lead, and it has a taste for Anopheles a la Malaria.
Ling, May 18 2004

       As others have said, creating a virus that can survive the human immune system is not a good idea. In fact creating any new virus and releasing it into the environment is not a good idea as, once released, it and it's effects would be uncontrollable.

I'd go for either developing thicker skin or passing a law whereby all female mosquitos have to wear a muzzle.
DrBob, May 18 2004

       I wonder if there are any die-hard animal-rights proponents out there who would deliberately avoid the innoculation so as to provide a safe-haven for the mosquitos. Or more likely just people in poor areas where your virus-spreading programme might not penetrate? Can you estimate what proportion of the human population would need to be 'infected' with your mosquito-killing virus in order for your plan to succeed?
dobtabulous, May 18 2004

       It might be better to produce an anti-agent to apyrases in mosquito's saliva which "contains enzymes that block the action of adenosine diphosphate (ADP), which coaxes normally spherical blood platelets to form spiky structures that stick together and form a clot".
FarmerJohn, May 18 2004

       [dobtabulous], since mosquitos are often fought regionally, it seems to me that we need not worry about preparing the whole human population at once. And production should be ramped up first for the worst-problem areas, no matter how poor the population. This sort of plan quite likely fits the goals of the United Nations World Health Organization, so let them do it.
Vernon, May 18 2004

       could we not try to get a virus which our body does accept to mutate into one that is deadly to the little parasitic buggers. That way our own immune system amy not clean it up.
etherman, May 18 2004

       [phoenix], thanks, but did you see how they want to spread that virus without involving human skin? I say we want to put the virus wherever mosquitos want to go...not necessarily where they might happen to be found.
Vernon, May 18 2004

       [scout], I've seen at least one science fiction story in which people on a multi-generation starship get to be healthily stressed by human-created and human-spread new viruses, no mosquitoes needed. Consider that mosquitoes don't care if your newborn baby isn't developed enough to handle the diseases they carry, and decide if you too would rather remove the randomness from that vector by removing the vector -- and replacing it with a controlled one.
Vernon, May 18 2004

       "[phoenix], thanks, but did you see how they want to spread that virus without involving human skin?"
So is your idea for a viral insecticide or a method of delivery? The title indicates the former, your note to me indicates the latter.

       FWIW, it seems unlikely this virus would wipe out all mosquitoes. Only those mosquitoes that draw blood from a protected animal would die. I doubt mosquitoes are cannibalistic so they wouldn’t pass it around themselves (unless it was by aspiration?).
phoenix, May 18 2004

       [phoenix], the Idea was to deliver already-existing mosquito-killing virii to mosquitoes, AS they attempt to do harm to us. I do not claim to know what particular virii are available, nor their normal means of transmission between mosquitoes, but because they are certain to Naturally exist, they must manage somehow. Let us help them!   

       Also, I know that we aren't going to eliminate all mosquitoes, but we might cause them to evolve away from feasting upon us and our favorite animals, by killing that group only, consistently and for a long time. Imagine a special skin lotion consisting of quite a few different mosquito-loving virii and bacteria...taking them all on at once is likely to prove 100% fatal to any that tries to bite us. (And if this Idea has itself evolved a trifle as a result of these annotations, the core remains: KILL the pesky little bloodsuckers with disease(s)!)
Vernon, May 18 2004

       I'm with scout, here. Mosquitoes provide important functions in the ecosystem. I'll try to find a link...
yabba do yabba dabba, May 18 2004

       Hey. Frog suit. Way easier.
lintkeeper2, May 18 2004

       just a paragraph from http://www.nps.gov/fiis/mosq&a.html:   

       Benefits are in the eye of the beholder. Everything in nature occupies an important place. From most public stand points mosquitoes don't have much use. However, mosquitoes pollinate flowers, and provide an important food source for a wide range of creatures such as fish, turtles, frogs, birds, and bats. It is also important to remember that pesticides kill almost all insects and many other organisms they contact. This includes butterflies, mites, ladybugs, and other insects that pollinate flowers, remove detritus from the ecosystem, digest feces, and all the other important functions we depend upon insects to perform in the environment.
yabba do yabba dabba, May 18 2004

       Thumbs up to you, Vernon!
DesertFox, May 18 2004

       The real problem with this is that mosquitos do not get their primary sustenance from the human body - untold hordes of them live, breed and die without ever coming close to a person.   

       So even if you infect or poison every single mosquito that lands on a human, there will still be legions more unaffected and ready to bite. You need to infect their primary food source (flowers, I believe).
DrCurry, May 18 2004

       Methinks this approach could be fruitfully reversed, in Virus-killing Mosquitoes.
briancady413, Oct 28 2014

       The real real problem is that you're not easily going to create a virus that lives in both humans and mosquitoes. Plasmodium manages to live in both, sort of, but it's two orders of magnitude more complex than a virus.   

       Also, it would take no time for the mosquitoes to develop resistance to the virus.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 28 2014


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