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Doctor doing test on zika virus

The Chinese are working to put an end to Zika

When Zika was first discovered in 1947, scientists were concerned and worked to find a means of preventing its spread. But while there was a concern, the bells and whistles were barely audible.

It wasn’t until Zika was determined to be a cause of microcephaly and linked to mosquitos adept at breeding and living in populated areas that the real alarm was sounded. When an outbreak occurred just prior to the Rio Olympics and another outbreak recently happened in Miami, it was all hands on deck. Preventing the spread of the virus has become an urgent call to action.

Zika-control efforts are widespread

In addition to pesticide spraying to reduce mosquito populations, researchers have turned to other means, including manipulating mosquito genetics and introducing biological controls to interrupt mosquito egg fertilization.

The largest mosquito lab in the world is in Guangzhou, China. Founded in 2011, the Sun-Yat Sen University – Michigan University Joint Center of Vector Control for Tropical Diseases is a combined effort between Chinese and American scientists.

Working with mosquitos in the lab

Located in a 37,700 square-foot facility, the lab has four workshops that produce 20 million male mosquitos each week. The mosquitos are then “poisoned” with a strain of Wolbachia pipientis, a common bacterium shown to interfere with Zika and similar viruses, such as Dengue Fever.

Once infected with W. pipientis, the male mosquitos are released on nearby islands to mate with wild female mosquitos. Male mosquitos do not feed on humans, but they are necessary to transmit W. pipientis to females.

With the female now infected with the bacterium, proper fertilization of her eggs is prevented, thereby reducing the Zika threat. Researchers have reported a 99% reduction in the mosquito population on the islands.

Similar efforts in the United States

The work in China focuses mainly on Aedes albopictus. At present, the Aedes aegypti is the primary vector of Zika transmission in the United States.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have also worked with W. pipientis as a means of preventing the spread of Dengue Fever. Although they’re not working in the largest mosquito lab in the world, they recently furthered their research by looking at how W. pipientis can stop A. aegypti from transmitting Zika. Results are promising.

According to their findings, mosquitos carrying W. pipientis were less likely to become infected with Zika after feeding on viral blood, and those that were infected were not capable of transmitting the virus in their saliva.

The mosquito war in South Florida

Presently, biological efforts to control mosquitoes are still in the trial phase. There may still be some time before any trial successes can be approved for large-scale usage.

In the meantime, Platinum Mosquito Protection can help keep you and your family safe on your residential, commercial, and agricultural properties with the use of an automatic misting system. For a free on-site consultation, contact us today.

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