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After years of spraying, local health officials say, A. aegypti mosquitoes in the Keys have developed a resistance to most chemical pesticides. Now, the Mosquito Control District wants to become the first in the U.S. to try something new: genetically modified mosquitoes. The strain of insects was developed more than a decade ago by a British company, Oxitec.
Experiments already conducted in Malaysia, Brazil and the Cayman Islands have found that releasing bioengineered male mosquitoes can reduce the A. Aegypti population by 90 percent. For the past five years, officials in the Keys have been working with Oxitec to get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for similar experimental trials in Florida.
These are the mosquitoes that carry dengue fever and chikungunya, another tropical disease that's swept through the Caribbean and is now showing up in Florida.