Fighting Zika With Mosquitoes –Tentative FDA Approval Gained

Fighting Zika With Mosquitoes –Tentative FDA Approval Gained

A new field test could mark a breakthrough in the fight against the Zika virus.

Health officials have been searching every possible scenario to help slow this rapidly spreading virus. Currently there is no cure and no preventative vaccine.

The population at the highest risk of complication from Zika is pregnant women, or women who plan to become pregnant in the near future and their unborn children. That’s because the offspring of these women are being born with abnormally small heads and poor brain development for which there is no cure or reversal.

While mosquito bites are to blame for the initial spreading, the FDA has confirmed it is spread through sexual intercourse as well. As a result, we are seeing the virus spread at an alarming rate. Now, this potential field test could attack the virus right at the heart of it – with genetically altered mosquitoes.

While the field test awaits final approval, if utilized, it would be released in the Florida Keys and contains a gene that would kill mosquitoes. A British company, Oxitec, developed these genetic insects that would produce offspring that would die before reaching adulthood when the male mosquitoes mated with a female. This surefire way to cut down the infected insect population has raised some fears in those residing in the Florida Keys areas.

Officials have stated that there is no risk to the public, environment or animals, but not everyone is on board with the release of these genetically altered insects.

Until these concerns have been resolved, it’s unlikely that we will see the final FDA approval.

The field test has been experimented with in parts of Brazil and other countries and has proven to be an effective method for reducing the mosquito populations.

By targeting the Florida Keys, the hope is to decrease the insect population before the warmer weather brings the infected insects to the area, which is predicted to happen in the coming months. In fact, it’s believed that the warmer weather will bring Zika to various areas of the United States as well.

In an attempt to put the public at ease, particularly the community of Key Haven (the area outside of Key West where the experiment would take place), officials have stated that the male mosquitoes pose no risk since they do not bite. Additionally, they are programmed to die before maturity so the chance of them spreading to unwanted areas is slim. The genetically engineered females (released in smaller numbers) may bite but they contain extra proteins that don’t seem to cause any harm to humans.

Only time will tell if final approval is gained or if the idea will even work, but it does show that scientists are thinking outside of the box and fighting Zika in any way they possibly can.

Birth Control On A Mission