Fighting Zika with QM Mosquito Killer

A new weapon is being deployed in Brazil and Colombia to fight Zika. Scientists plan to release millions of mosquitos infected with Wolbachia, bacteria that dampen the ability of mosquitos to transmit Zika, according to Nature News. The unconventional approach will be applied in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Medellín, Colombia, over the course of two years.

7 Fighting Zika with QM Mosquito Killer

“This really has the potential to be a game changer in terms of vector control—the biggest thing since DDT,” Philip McCall, a medical entomologist at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, U.K., told Nature News. In preliminary trials, the bacteria spread rapidly through mosquito populations, infecting almost all mosquitos in an area. Other investigations found that Wolbachia infection cuts the virus load in mosquito saliva by 55 percent.

8 1 Fighting Zika with QM Mosquito KillerThe program is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, along with the US and Brazilian governments, according to The Guardian.

Although Wolbachia does not naturally infect Aedes aegypi mosquitos, the species that carries Zika, artificially inducing the infection is unlikely to carry unintended health risks.

“Wolbachia bugs are present in so many insects worldwide that millions of humans come into contact with them everyday with no problems,” Scott O’Neill of the Eliminate Dengue Program told BBC News. “And in the six years we have been doing these trials there have been no problems.”

Still, more researchers is needed to prove this approach is effective, and scientists will be closely monitoring the effect on Zika transmission in these cities, McCall told Nature News. The technique also needs to have lasting effects in order to be practical, he said. “If it works, it will be truly remarkable, but it has to still be working in 10 years.”

 Another Mosquito Repelling Strategy

When it comes to treating your lawn, be careful not to kill the natural enemies of mosquitoes, which definitely occurs when you spray or “bomb” an area with broad-spectrum insecticides. Many of these sprays contain one or  more of a group of insecticidal compounds known as pyrethrins. Extremely toxic to bees, fish and other aquatic animals, these chemicals also have been associated with life-threatening allergic reactions in humans, and anemia and disruption of sex hormones in lab animals. They will kill both good and bad insects. Using them is even more disruptive to the natural balance of outdoor life than using electric bug zappers that attract bugs to a light source and then electrocute them. (Numerous studies have confirmed that zappers also kill many beneficial insects and relatively few ‘skeeters — unfortunately, less than 2 percent of insects killed by bug zappers are the biting female mosquitoes.)

01 12 l Fighting Zika with QM Mosquito Killer


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