Zika virus is on the rampage. The mosquito borne disease, after wrecking havoc in Brazil, have started engulfing other countries. What is worse is that world seems to lose badly to this epidemic. The situation is so explosive that Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff had to admit that they have failed to control this curse. He has proclaimed an all out war against Aedes aegypti, the propagator of Zika.
The virus has affected more than a million people in Brazil. There are evidences galore that it affects the development of fetuses and babies are born with small heads. The fear is so high that women’s are postponing pregnancy in order to avoid this scary scenario.
What is Zika?
Zika, dengue and chikungunya are all RNA viruses and each of them are transmitted by mosquitoes Aedes aegypti. These mosquitoes are quite common in Brazil and Columbia. It is to be noted that Columbia has the highest number of Zika cases after Brazil.
How to stop the spread of Zika virus
The spread of—another viral disease after Ebola—has emerged on the global scene; we are facing a new type of dreadful primordial threat to human being. Defeating Zika requires a concerted efforts that encompasses innovation in technology and policy.
Undoubtedly Zika is fearsome, but it’s not invincible. There are adequate safeguard available to stop the spread of this mosquito led disease. Some of these methods may look old and traditional, but are quite effective. The mankind now has more arrows in the bow to tackle the disease.
Brazilian president has dispatched 200,000 troops for spraying insecticides, finding out the pools of standing water and creating awareness among people. These methods really work. Brazil has done it before in 1942 to control yellow fever. Other countries in Latin America have also done it successfully.
The only problem with such methods is that they are time taking—which is unfortunately not at our side, but this is more effective than technological solutions. “We need to be more anticipatory in where the virus is going,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine said, “Start taking steps now for aggressive mosquito control where we know the virus is and where we know it is going and providing active public health recommendations.”
Tracking the disease
Tracking the disease can be also effective way to control the outbreak of disease. New technologies such as big data models can be used to predict the next destination of the outbreak of diseases. Tracking the cell phone movements can be good way to record the movements of their owners. This method has already been used effectively in Africa to control Malaria and Pakistan.
Use of genetically modified mosquito
These are the latest arsenals to fight the dreaded Zika virus. The introduction of modified male mosquitoes can destroy the population of the virus spreading bacteria. Though, this has been used at a low scale but can be used at places where the effect of disease is more.
Another technology is the gene drive which inserts a certain gene in a mosquito in a way that the desired trait spreads in the entire population. It has potential to destroy the entire population of incubating Zika virus—or destroys the entire species of A. aegypti.