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Zika Virus can cause birth defects. Brazil is turning to Genetically-modified mosquitoes which produce offspring that die before they can start to spread the virus. And the technique does appear to be having some success.
The video shows how a health specialist (Cecilia Kosmann, Production Control Supervisor, Oxitec) is releasing hundreds of thousands fertile mosquitoes into suburbs of brazil’s biggest city in the middle of a mosquito driven health crisis. These are genetically-modified Aedes Aegypti species of mosquitoes. Aedes Aegypti is the very species that is responsible to be transmitting Zika and dengue virus. The genetically-modified mosquitoes (also known as GMO Mosquitoes) when they mate, they pass on a self-limiting gene. The offspring will die before they become new flying adults. They die when they are in larva stage.
This technique has reduced over 90% of mosquitoes in some areas. This technology is developed in UK. All the first eggs were brought over from oxford in 2002. Currently all the genetically modified mosquitoes are the descendants of the first batch. Now they produce over 2 million male mosquitoes every week and they are released into the community to fight against Zika and Denge viruses.
Oxitec is a group of scientists who develop solutions that control the insects that spread disease and damage crops.
Finding a vaccine for Zika Virus is very difficult. Alexander Precioso, Director of Clinical Trials, Butantan Institute says that they need to prove their hypothesis of the possible relationship between the mirocephaly and zika virus. This will help in developing vaccine. This whole process might take several years.
Expectant mothers need to be cautious and calm. They need to protect themselves with mosquito repellents.