Colombia and Brazil have an unusual approach to protecting citizens against Zika. They are going to release infected mosquitoes that will help people be protected from Zika and other diseases that mosquitoes spread. The mosquitoes are going to be infected with a bug that is known as Wolbachia and this bug reduces the ability of the mosquitoes to spread any virus to people.
An international team of donors is funding this project and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the donors. This is also financed by governments in the U.S, the U.K, and Latin America. This “protection project” is going to start in 2017.
Despite the fact that it infects more than 60% of species of insects in the world this bacterium does not affect people, scientists confirm. The species of insects that are going to be infected are Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that don’t normally get infected by this virus. Scientists have found a way to “create” these infected mosquitoes that can protect people.
Researchers conducted different studies in order to find if the infected mosquitoes can defend people from viruses. In Colombia, Brazil, Vietnam, and Australia the small-scale trials showed that the infected mosquitos can slow or even stop the spread of dengue at humans. In the lab, the results have been the same even for viruses like chikungunya and Zika.
Dr. Trevor Mundel mentioned that this could be a revolutionary way of cutting down the spread of these viruses to people. He also mentioned that he along with other scientists want to study how well-infected mosquitoes work in a large urban area. This is why they want to expand their trial in Colombia and Rio de Janeiro. They want to partner up with local governments.
The infected mosquitoes that are going to be released will breed with the other ones and they will spread the bug to the next generation. The scientists are going to keep an eye on the result for three years in order to see if there has been any change. They expect to see a decline in the cases of chikungunya and Zika.
Scientists assured people that they don’t need to be concerned because the infected mosquitoes are not going to harm them or pass the virus to them because people are immune to that virus. They assured people that infected mosquitoes are going to help them.
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