This interesting article from Sophia Swinford at Aleteia.
“Transmitted primarily through mosquito bites, the Zika virus was estimated in 2017 to be active in 50 countries and territories. Though many infected by the virus experience no symptoms, those who do are afflicted with fevers, joint pain, and rashes. In pregnant women, Zika can result in brain deformities for their newborns.
“But now this frightening infection is being used for healing. Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo Brazil are discovering ways to utilize the virus’ deadly effect against brain cancer. ‘There’s a major effort to study viruses for their potential in treating illness,’ Oswaldo K. Okamoto, a researcher at USP, told Bloomberg. Researchers are testing whether the detrimental effects the virus has on brain tissue can be used to eliminate cancerous tissue from the brain, and so far they’re finding success.
“When the team infected cancerous cells with the virus, the virus attacked the cancerous cells almost exclusively, leaving most of the healthy tissue largely unaffected. This proved true again when tested on mice carrying human tumor cells.
“The most optimistic news, though, is that the Zika virus is proving to be effective in treating some of the most dangerous types of tumors found in children diagnosed with brain cancer. Okamoto confirmed that in children brain cancer is often resistant to mainstream treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, leaving many survivors with neurological damage. But this new unlikely treatment might offer hope.
“Though the treatment is still far from implementation, the new research is promising, and this deadly virus could someday be a blessing for many.”
More than 350 scientists from 95 leading organizations from around the world are testing a new generation of Anti-Mosquito called Kyzox as potential main weapon for Zika programs.
The program was funded by the European Union under the program Horizon 2020 “The need to reinvent health technology” to find an efficient response to the emergence of Zika Virus and more generally to the alarming 17% rise of Mosquitoes borne diseases infections occurring since 2013.
The funding allocated by the EU, €30 million, will go to three research consortia: ZikaPLAN (€11 million), coordinated by the Umeå University in Sweden, ZIKAction (€7 million), coordinated by the PENTA Foundation in Italy, and ZikAlliance (€12 million), coordinated by INSERM in France.
Project itself gathers the world’s largest expert’s coalition from the most prestigious universities, Foundations and Institutes from the five continents with the mission to deliver an Anti-Mosquitoes solution by the end of 2020.
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Dr. Thomas Ant invited Kyzox Technology Founder to join force to run a series of experiments on Anti-Mosquito formulas identified by experts as the world’s latest anti-mosquito technology.
“The objective is to move on to a more of a phase 3-style clinical trial to see if the product could impact on disease transmission in at risk populations. Provided results were suitably encouraging the WHO to the endorsement of the product as a recommended intervention” Dr Ant said.
The scientists groups are especially interested in Kyzox Anti-Mosquito laundry additive can become a major solution to reduce mosquito’s diseases infections among populations.
For years specialists shown concern to the global warming that contribute to the worldwide spread of the 18 major diseases transmit by mosquitoes but also help mosquitoes to migrate and adapt in north hemisphere territories. In 2015 Japan has the first dengue outbreak since 1975 and it’s a sign cannot be ignored by governments and health organizations said experts.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2016, deadly mosquito diseases have reached the alarming number of 5.5 million victims with an estimated over 1.2 billion infections worldwide.
The WHO also concluded that infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy was a cause of congenital brain abnormalities, including microcephaly, and that the Zika virus is a trigger for Guillain-Barré syndrome.
The Zika virus continues to expand to areas in North America and Europe besides the danger of the Zika virus compared to other mosquito-borne diseases is that the Zika virus leaves life after effect in Newborn who have been infected during pregnancy, which also becomes a heavy and long financial burden for families and governments.
Kyzox Technology was created by a French Entomologist, Dr Francois Martin, who makes his mark as the forerunner that succeed to integrate Anti-Mosquito in existing mass consumer’s products, such Laundry Detergents, Floor Cleaners or Paints.
More Known by his colleagues to run Anti-Dengue campaigns in the poorest areas of the planet than a researcher in his laboratory, in 2009, the Entomologist wrote a report to the World Health Organization concluding by “If mosquitoes kill the poorest peoples simply because they cannot afford to buy Anti-Mosquito and less to pay medical bill when infection occur.“It’s our duty to protect them by integrating an Anti-Mosquito compound in what they already use and afford to buy, laundry detergent and washing soap are the most suitable products to start from.”
The complete Kyzox formulas remain secret, contacted by phone in the Philippines where Kyzox process the formulas, Dr Martin accepted to unveil part of the secret formula, “from start we immediately eliminated the common anti-mosquitos used from the past 50 years by the industry. DEET, Permethrin, Picardin, D-Permethrin and so on, if they will work it will be no need to try to find a solution.
One of the components of this novel formula is the extract of Vitex Negundo leaves that have high Mosquitocidal (repellency) property, but alone is no use except for spray or lotion.
The keys are not only to fix the repellent on the textile but also to preserve its efficiency during washing process. Is only what I can say” mentioned the French Doctor during the phone interview.
In an industry of more than 50 billion dollar a year, Kyzox concept attracts major companies originally not in the anti-mosquito industry, Kansai, and Nippon paints launched their Anti-Mosquito paints, American tycoon Unilever in the starting block to commercialize Anti-Mosquito laundry detergent and floor cleaner by the end this year.
“We focus on local manufacturers with regional brands because they react faster, their products are more affordable and are closer to the communities we hope to protect, large international companies are welcome to launch with our formula or something else, the only point is what they will offer to consumers must work, Kyzox was created to reduce mosquitoes borne diseases infections among the poorest, not to create a multimillion dollar business, the future will show which formula consumers trust.” said Dr Martin.
Source: The Jet, Fiji
Mosquitoes are, by far, the deadliest animals on Earth. More than 725,000 people die from mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria each year, and millions are affected by mosquito-borne illnesses, according to the World Health Organization.
Now new technology is being used to try to reduce mosquito-borne illnesses. In particular, introducing sterile male mosquitoes to a population can increase competition for female mosquitoes, eventually reducing the population by as much as 90 percent, according to researchers.
But introducing the mosquitoes to areas affected by mosquito-borne diseases can be a challenge.
“Not everybody lives next to a road. Even if roads do exist in some of these areas, they look very different when the rainy seasons hit. … And of course when it rains … you have pools of standing water and even more mosquitoes,” says Patrick Meier, executive director and co-founder of WeRobotics, a nonprofit with offices in the US and Switzerland.
“What we’re doing that nobody else has done is to make it such that we release these mosquitoes from the air, using affordable drones,” Meier says.
In partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Insect Pest Control Lab in Vienna, Austria, WeRobotics is testing out the technology and hopes to put it to use in Zika hotspots in Latin America.
But releasing hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of mosquitoes comes with engineering challenges, Meier says.
“How do you take 100,00 mosquitoes, put [them] in a relatively small box and have them not kill each other?” Meier says. “You have to keep the mosquitoes in a kind of sleep state, which means you reduce the temperature within this ‘box’ between 4 and 10 degrees celsius.”
Other challenges include releasing mosquitoes in a uniform manner, Meir says. “You’re not releasing 100,000 as soon as you get to 400 feet. You’re trying to do a homogenous release over a gridded area. Remember, these mosquitoes are basically knocked out, if you’d like, or tranquilized. How do you ensure that as they’re falling from the release mechanism, they actually wake up in time before they go splat on the ground?”
WeRobotics will begin deploying these drones in the coming months, focusing on communities that are already deploying sterile mosquitoes on the ground, and providing education to locals about the project.
“This is frankly our bread and butter — training, awareness-raising, capacity-building and informing local communities can be used, and are being used, to improve their health,” Meier says.
Other methods to reduce mosquito-borne illnesses range from simple nets and vaccines to mass spraying of insecticides, but many have proved ineffective, costly, and damaging to the environment.
Source: Public Radio International
Nerve-related complications of Zika infection may be caused by the immune system’s response to the virus, not the virus itself, according to a new study.
Zika is spread primarily via the bite of an infected mosquito, but it may also be transmitted by blood transfusion or sexual contact. Most people who become infected don’t have any symptoms, but some develop serious neurological conditions. And an infection during pregnancy can cause devastating birth defects.
The researchers said their findings, based on experiments with mice, may help lead to new ways to treat people with Zika-related nerve complications, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome.
The syndrome can cause muscle weakness, tingling and even paralysis.
The Yale University research team found that when Zika infection spreads from the blood to the brain in mice, immune cells flood the brain. This limits the infection of brain cells, but it can also trigger paralysis.
“The immune cells that are generated by infection start attacking our own neurons,” study leader and immunobiologist Akiko Iwasaki said in a university news release. “The damage is not occurring through the virus infection, but rather the immune response to the virus.”
The findings suggest that suppressing the immune system response may be a way to treat Guillain-Barre syndrome. However, research in animals frequently doesn’t produce similar results in humans.
The study was published online this month in the journal Nature Microbiology.
Source: Web MD
Aedes aegypti, the primary mosquito that carries Zika virus, may also transmit chikungunya and dengue viruses with one bite, a new study has found.
The findings shed new light on what is known as a co- infection, which scientists say is not yet fully understood and may be fairly common in areas experiencing outbreaks.
“A mosquito, in theory, could give you multiple viruses at once,” said Claudia Ruckert, post-doctoral researcher at Colorado State University (CSU) in the US.
The team infected mosquitoes in the lab with multiple kinds of viruses to learn more about the transmission of more than one infection from a single mosquito bite.
The researchers found that mosquitoes in the lab can transmit all three viruses simultaneously, although this is likely to be extremely rare in nature.
While they described the lab results as surprising, researchers said there is no reason to believe that these co- infections are more severe than being infected with one virus at a time.
“Dual infections in humans, however, are fairly common, or more common than we would have thought,” Ruckert said.
The researchers had expected to find that one virus would prove to be dominant and outcompete the others in the midgut of the mosquito where the infections establish and replicate before being transmitted to humans.
“It is interesting that all three replicate in a really small area in the mosquito’s body,” Ruckert said.
“When these mosquitoes get infected with two or three different viruses, there is almost no effect that the viruses have on each other in the same mosquito,” she said.
The first report of chikungunya and dengue virus co- infection occurred in 1967, researchers said. More recently, co-infections of Zika and dengue viruses, Zika and chikungunya, and all three viruses have been reported during various outbreaks, including the recent outbreak of Zika virus in North and South America.
Source: Daily Excelsior
Scientists in Britain plan to harness the Zika virus to try to kill brain tumor cells in experiments that they say could lead to new ways to fight an aggressive type of cancer.
The research will focus on glioblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer, which has a five-year survival rate of barely 5 percent.
Zika causes severe disability in babies by attacking developing stem cells in the brain – but in adults, whose brains are fully formed, it often causes no more than mild flu-like symptoms.
In glioblastoma, the cancer cells are similar to those in the developing brain, suggesting that the virus could be used to target them while sparing normal adult brain tissue.
Experts say existing treatments have to be given at low doses to avoid damaging healthy tissue.
Researchers led by Harry Bulstrode at Cambridge University will use tumor cells in the lab and in mice to assess Zika’s potential.
The mosquito-borne virus has spread to more than 60 countries and territories in a global outbreak that was first identified in Brazil in 2015.
“Zika virus infection in babies and children is a major global health concern, and the focus has been to discover more about the virus to find new possible treatments,” Bulstrode said in a statement.
“We hope to show that the Zika virus can slow down brain tumor growth in tests in the lab,” Bulstrode added. “If we can learn lessons from Zika’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and target brain stem cells selectively, we could be holding the key to future treatments.”
This weekend update of the coming mosquito season from Times of San Diego.
“San Diego can expect a ‘bumper crop’ of mosquitoes starting as early as March because of the exceptionally heavy winter rains.
The warning came as 1,200 members of the American Mosquito Control Association wrapped up their annual meeting Friday in San Diego.
“In all likelihood, you’re going to have a bumper crop of mosquitoes this year,” said Jon Conlon, technical director and spokesman for the nonprofit association based in New Jersey.
Any flooding this weekend will exacerbate the potential for mosquitoes. “As the flooding recedes, it’s going to leave pockets of water that are perfect breeding points,” Conlon said.
He said eggs laid by mosquitoes will start hatching as soon as temperatures stay above 55 to 60 degrees. That could happen as early as March, and mosquito control districts throughout California are gearing up to deal with swarms, he said.
Officials in San Diego are particularly concerned about insects carrying the Zika and West Nile viruses.
Conlon said the most mosquitoes will likely be found in San Diego County’s inland valleys, but the insects are increasingly found in urban areas as well.
The mosquito control association recommends the following precautions:
Drain standing water. Empty bird baths, turn over open containers and make sure pools and spas are properly chlorinated.
Dress properly. Mosquitoes are drawn to dark clothing, and can bite through tight fitting garments, so wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
Use insect repellent. Make sure it’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency."
Don’t bet on cold winter temperatures to kill off mosquitoes this year. The eggs laid by strains that inhabit the Mid-Columbia are hardy enough to survive the current round of cold temperatures
A prolonged freeze should mean fewer mosquitoes this summer, right?
Wrong, said Amanda Beehler, manager of the Benton County Mosquito Control District.
“We have dormant mosquito eggs out there waiting to hatch and become spring mosquitoes,” she explained.
Tropical mosquito varieties, such as the ones carrying the dreaded Zika virus, perish in cold temperatures. Unfortunately, the strains inhabiting the Mid-Columbia are made of sterner stuff.
“The kind of mosquitoes we have are fine with low temperatures. They’re going to tough it out,” she said.
It is too early to predict what 2017 will bring in terms of mosquitoes. More than a painful nuisance, local mosquitoes spread the potentially deadly West Nile Virus and other diseases.
Source: Tri-City Herald
Wisconsin State Journal answers questions from its readers.
“Q: Can all mosquito species transmit the Zika virus?
— Mike Corry, 70, Madison
“A: Not all mosquitoes can transmit the Zika virus, and that’s the case with any mosquito-borne pathogen.
“There are about 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world, and only about 150 are considered vectors of pathogens, capable of spreading viruses.
“In terms of the Zika virus and the outbreak in the Americas, two mosquito species are involved: Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.
“These mosquitoes feed indoors during the daytime. Their breeding habitats develop around human dwellings and in any small amount of water. They are good at transmitting human pathogens because they have this close proximity to and association with humans.
“The mosquito and virus have a compatible relationship in which the mosquito has an innate ability to ingest the virus, support its development or replication, and then transmit the virus to a new host.
“When a mosquito ingests a virus, the first site of replication is in the mosquito’s midgut, basically its stomach. Lining that gut are a number of receptors, similar to a lock-and-key relationship. The cells in the mosquito’s gut have the lock, and the virus needs a specific key to open that lock and get into the cell.
“The virus has to travel all through the mosquito’s body from the midgut to the circulatory system and other tissues. Each point along the way is an opportunity to stop the virus, but in a compatible system like Zika virus and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the virus gets through all the checkpoints.
“Eventually the virus needs to make it to the mosquito’s salivary glands if it wants to spread to another host.
“When a mosquito feeds, it inserts its mouth parts into a human or animal.
“It’s not only ingesting blood, it’s actually spitting back into the human or animal. If that mosquito is infected with a virus, it’s actually spitting out saliva and the virus. That’s how the viral infection spreads.”
“Puerto Rico’s health secretary says nearly 500 new cases of Zika have been reported in the U.S. territory in the past week.
“Ana Rius said Monday that 34,562 cases of the mosquito-borne virus have now been registered, including nearly 2,700 that involve pregnant women. Nearly 290 people have been hospitalized.
“Authorities earlier this year declared a Zika epidemic on the island, and health officials have warned that a growing number of babies will be born with severe birth defects known as microcephaly, characterized by abnormally small heads in newborns.
“Five people infected with Zika have died in recent months in Puerto Rico, including two who developed complications from a paralysis condition known as Guillain-Barre.”
Source: Daily Mail
C10 antibody (purple) visualized to be interacting with the Zika virus coat (green). Image/Victor Kostyuchenko, Duke-NUS Medical School
“As Zika spreads throughout the world, the call for rapid development of therapeutics to treat Zika rings loud and clear. Taking a step further in identifying a possible therapeutic candidate, a team of researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS), in collaboration with scientists from the University of North Carolina, have discovered the mechanism by which C10, a human antibody previously identified to react with the Dengue virus, prevents Zika infection at a cellular level.
“Previously, C10 was identified as one of the most potent antibodies able to neutralise Zika infection. Now, Associate Prof Lok Shee-Mei and her team at the Emerging Infectious Disease Programme of Duke-NUS have taken it one step further by determining how C10 is able to prevent Zika infection.
“To infect a cell, virus particles usually undergo two main steps, docking and fusion, which are also common targets for disruption when developing viral therapeutics. During docking, the virus particle identifies specific sites on the cell and binds to them. With Zika infection, docking then initiates the cell to take the virus in via an endosome – a separate compartment within the cell body. Proteins within the virus coat undergo structural changes to fuse with the membrane of the endosome, thereby releasing the virus genome into the cell, and completing the fusion step of infection.
“Using a method called cryoelectron microscopy, which allows for the visualisation of extremely small particles and their interactions, the team visualised C10 interacting with the Zika virus under different pHs, so as to mimic the different environments both the antibody and virus will find themselves in throughout infection. They showed that C10 binds to the main protein that makes up the Zika virus coat, regardless of pH, and locks these proteins into place, preventing the structural changes required for the fusion step of infection. Without fusion of the virus to the endosome, viral DNA is prevented from entering the cell, and infection is thwarted.
“’Hopefully, these results will further accelerate the development of C10 as a Zika therapy to combat its effects of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. This should emphasise the need for further studies of the effect of C10 on Zika infection in animal models,’ commented Dr Lok.
“’By defining the structural basis for neutralization, these studies provide further support for the idea that this antibody will protect against Zika infection, potentially leading to a new therapy to treat this dreaded disease,’ says Ralph Baric, PhD, professor in the Department of Epidemiology at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.
“These findings suggest that C10 may be developed as a therapy for Zika infection, and should be further explored. In addition, disrupting fusion with C10 may prove to be more effective in preventing Zika infection compared with therapies that attempt to disrupt docking. This is because the fusion step is critical for Zika infection, while the virus may develop other mechanisms to overcome disruptions to the docking step. With the call for rapid development of Zika therapies, C10 has emerged as a front runner to answer this call.”
Source: Outbreak News Today
Believe it or not, the mosquitoes are out there, even in winter. They’re just hiding so we don’t notice them. Absent unseasonably warm weather, mosquitoes remain inactive through the winter months.
Some mosquitoes lay winter hardy eggs which lie dormant in the soil until spring. In late summer or fall, the female mosquito lays her eggs singly in areas where the ground is moist. The eggs hatch when conditions become favorable again, usually in the spring when temperatures begin to rise and sufficient rain falls.
Certain mosquitoes can survive winter in the larval stage. All mosquito larvae require water, even in winter. As the water temperature drops, it induces a state of diapause in the mosquito larvae, suspending further development and slowing metabolism.
Development resumes when the water warms again.
Many mosquito species live through the winter as adults. In fall, the mosquitoes mate and the males die. Only females spend the cold months hidden in protected places, such as hollow logs or animal burrows. When warm weather returns, the females must first find a bloodmeal to develop her eggs. Just when you’re outside enjoying the spring weather, the newly awakened mosquito moms are out in force, looking for blood. Once they’ve fed, the female mosquitoes lay their eggs in whatever standing water they can find.
When it comes to mosquito control devices, about the only thing that works is common sense, says an entomologist with Texas A&M University.
Meanwhile, many Texas citizens are using devices or controls costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars that may offer only marginal control or may actually draw more mosquitoes onto their property, said Dr. Jim Olson, professor of entomology with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in College Station, who passed last year.
Olson’s warning comes at a time when mosquito populations are on the rise due to warm, wet weather. It’s also a time when Texans need to heed the threat of mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and the Zika virus.
Fueled by fears of mosquito-borne diseases, the market is ripe for a host of dubious mosquito control devices.
“Often, the manufacturer’s game plan is to get in and make their profits and get out within two years, because it takes two years at least for the effectiveness of the devices to be researched,” Olson said.
First there are the sonic repellants. Whether wristband or tabletop model, these devices emit a high frequency sound, inaudible to humans, that mimics the sound that male mosquitoes make. Only female mosquitoes that have already mated with males bite humans and animals. By nature of their mated status, female mosquitoes tend to ignore male mosquitoes during this period of their life.
Good theory, Olson said, but unfortunately these devices just don’t work. The female’s lust for blood is more on her mind than avoiding males. Also female mosquitoes are only repelled by the sound of the male mosquito when they are already gorged with a blood meal. Consequently, the sonic repellant devices tend to only chase away females that aren’t prone to bite anyway.
The best thing about sonic repellants is they are generally inexpensive so buyers aren’t throwing that much money away, Olson noted.
Another type of sonic device supposedly attracts insects by imitating the sound of a human heartbeat. Unfortunately for the buyer – perhaps fortunately for the mosquito, the pest is not attracted by the sound of heartbeats but by the carbon dioxide and heat large mammals such as humans emit.
Some sonic devices also add heat to the attractant properties and draw mosquitoes into traps. If left on, they may actually trap hundreds of mosquitoes and that’s fine, but the problem is that in wet areas, the mosquito headcount may be as much as several million individuals per acre.
Another type of mosquito trap goes a step further. It uses propane to produce carbon dioxide and heat to draw the mosquitoes close enough to be sucked into a fan-driven trap. Though these propane-fueled devices may trap thousands of mosquitoes in a few days, there are again generally hundreds of thousands or even millions of mosquitoes an acre to deal with, thereby overwhelming the trap and its ability to effectively limit bites.
A warning flag on these devices is that they come with the caveat that they must be left on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and then the owner will only realize a lowering of mosquito numbers in four to six weeks.
“With most mosquito species, weather conditions and the insect’s breeding patterns will result in a decline in four to six weeks without any intervention,” Olson said.
As with the bug zappers, the propane-fueled devices may actually draw more mosquitoes from long distances onto your property than can be controlled to prevent bites.
The question here is will these extra mosquitoes wait to be collected by the trap or take the opportunity to feed upon the trap’s owner?
“It’s probably a toss-up,” Olson said. “Plus, with the fact that running the propane burner 24/7 will draw more and more mosquitoes onto your property, you’re probably not going to lessen your chances of being bitten.”
What’s particularly disturbing to Olson are the pesticide misting devices now on the market. There are several models, but they generally work by emitting small puffs of the insecticides at timed intervals around a house’s perimeter. The devices are expensive, costing as much as $5,000, and their effectiveness is suspect. Worse is the amount of pesticide they release into the environment over time and the possibility of inhalation by residents and the drift of the pesticide to other properties.
“It’s about the most indiscriminate, irresponsible use of a chemical control that I’ve ever seen,” Olson said.
The best ways to avoid mosquito bites are the tried and true methods. As mosquitoes are most active at night, limit evening activities when possible. When you do go outside, cover up and use proven repellants.
“The DEET-containing repellants are still the most effective,” Olson said, “but other products and the organic repellants will work for awhile.”
Citronella candles repel mosquitoes but are most effective in enclosed patios and other confined spaces. The candles won’t work if conditions are windy.
People can take several preventative measures to reduce the mosquito population on their property.
“Dispose of prime breeding locations by getting rid of anything that will hold water,” Olson said. “Buckets and tin cans can fill with water and become breeding sites for mosquitoes.”
For areas that have standing water and can’t be drained, mosquito dunks are a good buy. The dunks, shaped like small donuts, use a bacterially derived pesticide called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti).
Bti disrupts the life cycle of insects that lay their eggs in standing or running water. It is non-toxic to humans, amphibians, fish, crustaceans, adult insects, flatworms and mollusks. Neither is it toxic to insect predators of the black fly, such as dragonflies. The dunks are inexpensive, can be simply dropped into the breeding pools and generally last for months.
Olson has 40 years of experience researching and studying the biology, ecology, survey and management of mosquitoes and other biting insects. His career work has emphasized control of mosquitoes associated with agricultural and reclaimed wetland systems.
“One Miami city official has an unusual proposal to combat the spread of the Zika virus. City Commissioner Kristin Rosen Gonzalez has proposed using bats, which eat mosquitoes, including the species known to spread the virus.
“’Some people are laughing and they are not taking it seriously. But bats, depending on the species, eat up to 3,000 mosquitoes in one day, and they avoid humans,’ Gonzalez told ABC News today. She has sponsored a resolution that proposes placing bat houses in the city to curb the mosquito population.
“The first outbreak of locally transmitted Zika virus was reported in Miami in July. In the months since, city officials have continued to battle the ongoing outbreak, which has infected dozens in the Miami-area. Larvacide, insecticide and door-to-door inspections have all been used to try and reduce the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the Zika virus.
“The resolution seeks to authorize the city manager to ‘research a potential pilot program for the placement of bat houses and habitats in the city to control the city’s mosquito population due to the continued presence of mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus. The measure was discussed at the commissioners meeting on October 19, 2016.
“’It was a goodwill gesture to the environmentalists, who were really upset about us spraying all the neurotoxins,’ Gonzalez said of her resolution, but added that she isn’t sure if it will be adopted because “it makes people nervous.”
“The Miami City Commission reviewed the resolution today and passed it to Miami-Dade County, which holds the authority to either adopt or reject the resolution.
“The measure of floated as an alternative to spraying chemicals, Gonzalez said, adding: ‘This was really the one environmental solution.’
“The American Mosquito Control Association notes on its website that bats have historically not been an effective method of curbing mosquito populations, and that mosquitoes comprise less than 1 percent of gut contents of wild-caught bats, saying that bats feed on “whatever food source presents itself.”
“‘There is no question that bats eat mosquitoes, but to utilize them as the sole measure of control would be folly indeed,’ the AMCA states, ‘particularly considering the capacity of both mosquitoes and bats to transmit diseases.’”
Source: ABC News
Verily has a few ideas for stopping the disease in its tracks.
“There are a few ways to kill off a pest: eliminate its food supply, or, make sure it can’t effectively procreate. Since the pest in question for this post is mosquitos, the former solution isn’t an option. So, Verily, the life-science division of Alphabet Inc., is addressing the Zika-carrier with a spin on the latter, according to MIT Technology Review.
“As is normal with the company’s far-fetched projects, the anti-mosquito experiments have mostly been done under the veil of secrecy. But because one of the tests involves driving vans into neighborhoods and releasing millions of altered male mosquitoes, Verily is pulling the curtain back a little bit.
“’People in some parts of the U.S. are asking for help,’ Verily’s vice president of engineering Linus Upson told Technology Review. ‘But if we are going to release mosquitoes in the real world, we need to talk to communities. This isn’t like launching a consumer internet service.’
“And he’s right. One method of stopping the diminutive airborne scourge is administering a gene drive, a DNA construct that turns poisonous when passed onto offspring. That’s still in its infancy. Another is infecting the bugs with the bacteria Wolbachia, which, when carried by males, causes females eggs to not be fertilized properly. From the sounds of it, that one is in the embryonic stages as well, but the closest to being tested and accepted by communities. For example, trials from other companies using methods similar to that haven’t caused any public outcry.
“The FDA has already approved using genetically modified mosquitoes to combat Zika, so perhaps Verily’s efforts will see the light of day sooner rather than later.”