“Mosquito”, directed by Su Rynard and written by Mark Monroe. will air on the Discovery Channel (Impact) starting July 6, but had a world premiere at the Newseum tonight in Washington DC as part of ADI Docs.
The 70-minute film presents the coming world health crisis from the explosive growth of mosquitoes in new areas, partly because of climate change. For example, some species are spreading on high plateaus in Africa because it no longer gets cold enough to stop them.
It seems that Zika may have been endemic in Africa for years, but infected young girls and left them immune before pregnancy. But it may have come to Brazil on ships or travel, and been introduced to Recife, Brazil, often shown in the film, at the end of 2014 for a sporting event. The film shows women being tested in utero for potential mico encaphaly of their babies. It is not known if babies born with normal head dimensions to Zika infected mothers will develop normally.
The film covers many of the diseases spread by mosquitoes, including dengue and West Nile Virus, which infected a woman on Long Island in 2015. It also covers the gradual spread of more species north into the US, in sheltered areas like the Metro.
The film diagrams the mechanics of the mosquito bite, and how it cuts a channel in the skin for its blood meal and source of proteins.
The film pays particular attention to malaria in children. Bill Gates appears and addresses this problem. I once had a roommate in graduate school at KU who said he had gotten it in the Peace Corps and was told he should never live in a warm climate (without a seasonal winter).
The film, as well as the panel, shows the difficulties of mosquito control without affecting the balance of other species. There was talk about community cooperation, where one person can affect the success of a whole effort (and health officials break down doors). But modern methods emphasize surgical methods, like introducing a genetically engineered male whose offspring are born dead so the eggs cannot hatch, a kind of “Children on Men” solution.
There is a normal mosquito population in most areas, especially northern latitudes. It is invasive species, moving north with transportation and warming climate, that destroy the balance and introduce new diseases.
In the 1980s, I recall that the religious right wanted to speculated what would happen if AIDS were to be spread by mosquitoes. In fact, for a while, before HIV was discovered, there were rumors that it could becaused by another arbovirus, African Swine Fever, which would have been disastrous in implications politically.
It would be possible to argue that, since Zika is sometimes sexually transmitted, adults could be unwittingly infecting unborn children through a chain letter. But the real problem is to control the mosquitoes.
Recife picture (wiki).
Kenya picture (wiki).
|Director, writer:||Su Rynard, Mark Monroe|
|When and how viewed:||Newseum, AFI-Docs, 2017/6/15, near sellout|
(Posted: Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 11 PM EDT)