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Genetic Modification To Fight Zika Mosquitoes; WHO | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Trials using modified mosquitoes have been taking place in the Cayman Islands.

Trials using modified mosquitoes have been taking place in the Cayman Islands.

Trials using modified mosquitoes have been taking place in the Cayman Islands.

LONDON – Zika virus, which is being witnessed for its widespread throughout the Americas, transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which the U.N. health body has called as an “opportunistic and tenacious menace”. Finding the most operative ways to have control over these mosquitoes could be a major boost to the fight against the disease, the WHO said in a statement.

On the matter, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on Friday for pilot projects to test two experimental ways to curb Zika-carrying mosquitoes, that includes testing the release of genetically modified insects and bacteria that stop their eggs hatching.

WHO stated that its specialists actually reviewed five potential new weapons against Aedes mosquitoes, after convening a meeting of its Vector Control Advisory Group (VCAG) earlier this week.
In addition to the aforementioned, a third option including sterile insect technique, vector traps and toxic sugar baits to attract and kill mosquitoes – were still too experimental to consider for scaled-up pilot projects, the WHO said.

But a further two – releasing mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia bacteria, and using genetically modified, or transgenic, male mosquitoes to suppress the wild population – “warrant time-limited pilot deployment, accompanied by rigorous monitoring and evaluation”.

Due to Zika’s revealed link in Brazil with suspected cases of birth defects known as microcephaly, in which babies are born with abnormally small heads. Brazil authorities, the WHO declared in February the Zika virus an international public health emergency.

Thus, although the connection between the virus and the birth defects has not yet been scientifically established; but authorities in Brazil have said they consider most of the cases of babies born with abnormally small heads to be related to Zika. The number of confirmed and suspected cases of microcephaly in Brazil associated with the Zika virus has increased to 5,131 from 4,976 a week earlier, stated Brazil on Friday. Of these, the number of confirmed cases climbed to 863 from 745 a week earlier.

Transgenic mosquitoes developed by Oxitec, a British subsidiary of Intrexon, are genetically modified so their offspring will die before reaching adulthood and being able to reproduce.

Wolbachia bacteria, which do not infect humans, cause the eggs of female mosquitoes that mate with infected males to fail to hatch. Mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia have been shown to reduce transmission of dengue fever, another mosquito-borne disease.