US Efforts to Combat Zika
Earlier this week, an assessment of the possible impacts of a field trial release of a genetically modified form of the Zika spreading mosquito (OX513A) was made public by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The OX513A
would pass on a gene to the offspring which would result in the offspring’s premature death. However, the FDA will not release the GMO mosquitos, developed by the British company, Oxitec Ltd., until public comments on the release are reviewed.
In addition, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) claims to have a possible vaccine
which will be ready for human testing by this coming fall. However, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of NIAID, states that it is still a matter of years before the FDA approves such a vaccine. The vaccine, which would be administrated to children who have not yet went through puberty, would prevent Zika infection.
If this vaccine is anything like NIAID’s Dengue virus vaccine
, then there is a possibility of preventing Zika infection, assuming that it is made available to the public.
The Spread of Zika
Although it is likely that the continental US will start experiencing local Zika infections, the numbers are not anticipated to be as high as in Latin America or the Caribbean, according to Dr. Monaghan. He argues that American use of air-conditioners, along with the use of window and door screens, hinders the entrance of mosquitos into homes or cars, rendering high numbers of infection unlikely.
Commenting on the study in a news release, Sarah Ruth, program director of the science foundation’s division of atmospheric and geospace sciences, stated
, “By integrating information on weather, travel patterns, mosquito biology and human behavior, the project team has improved our ability to forecast, deal with, and possibly even prevent future outbreaks of Zika and other serious diseases.”
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