WHO Recommends Genetically Modified Insects to Fight Zika

VOA News

Countries dealing with Zika outbreaks should consider using controversial methods to fight its spread, such as using genetically modified mosquitoes and biological agents that stop mosquito larva from hatching, theWorld Health Organization said Tuesday.

«Given the magnitude of the Zika crisis, WHO encourages affected countries and their partners to boost the use of both old and new approaches to mosquito control as the most immediate line of defense,» the agency said.

The WHO said its advisory board recommended trials using «sterile irradiated male mosquitoes» a technique used to fight dengue in the Cayman Islands.  It says other U.N. agencies have deployed sterilized mosquitoes to control other agricultural pests.

Environmentalists have cautioned against the used of genetically modified mosquitoes saying the long-term effects of killing off an entire inset population is unknown.

The Zika virus is transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegyoti mosquito.

There is currently no treatment for Zika and much remains unknown about the disease, including whether the virus causes microcephaly, a medical condition in which the head in newborns is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing.

The mosquito-borne virus is prevalent in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, which has more than 4,300 suspected cases of the birth defect.