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GM mosquitoes, bacteria get WHO backing to fight Zika

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for pilot projects to test two experimental ways to curb Zika-carrying mosquitoes, including testing the release of genetically modified insects and bacteria that stop their eggs hatching.

Zika virus, which is sweeping through the Americas, is transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which the U.N. health body has described as an “opportunistic and tenacious menace”.

Finding the most effective ways to control these mosquitoes could be a major boost to the fight against the disease, the WHO said in a statement.

After convening a meeting of its Vector Control Advisory Group (VCAG), the WHO said its specialists had reviewed five potential new weapons against Aedes mosquitoes.

Three – 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”.

Brazil authorities have said they consider most of the cases of babies born with abnormally small heads to be related to Zika, though the link between the virus and the birth defects has not yet been scientifically established.

Read full, original post: WHO Backs Trails of Bacteria, Genetic Modification to Fight Zika Mosquitoes

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