Bacteria-laden mosquitoes can control Zika

Hanoi: A new breed of mosquitoes laden with bacteria has proven capable of controlling the spread of dengue fever and the Zika virus, said Vietnam’s health officials on Monday.

Scientists have officially confirmed the ability of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia bacteria to block the Zika virus and prevent it from being transmitted to humans, Xinhua reported quoted Le Tan Phung, deputy director of Khanh Hoa health department as saying.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia bacteria released since April 2013 on Tri Nguyen Island in Vietnam’s Khanh Hoa Province.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are the main vector of both dengue fever and the Zika virus, but they naturally do not carry Wolbachia bacteria.

In April 2013, scientists handed over a total of 8,000 mosquito larvae injected with Wolbachia bacteria to nearly 800 families to breed on the island.

Tran Nhu Duong, deputy director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said that after three months, 70 to 80 percent of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes on the island carried the bacteria.

On February 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika outbreak an international health emergency. It cited a “strongly suspected” relationship between Zika infection in pregnancy to microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size in babies that can result in developmental problems.