More Zika virus reported in U.S. as researchers take fight to the mosquito

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Four people returning from travel abroad have tested positive in New York state for the Zika virus, the mosquito-borne virus linked to birth defects in Latin America, while researchers plan to deploy a modified male mosquito that could render the females infertile. Mana Rabiee reports.

More Zika virus reported in U.S. as researchers take fight to the mosquito

Health officials in New York state say four people returning from travel abroad have tested positive for the Zika virus.

That’s the mosquito-borne virus linked to tragic birth defects among thousands of newborns in Latin America.

The spike there of babies born with ‘microcephaly’ is sparking a health scare among Americans who worry about the spread of the virus to the States.

There’s been no report of Zika transmission in the continental U.S., but a woman who fell ill with the virus in Brazil later gave birth to a brain-damaged baby in Hawaii.

Now, some scientists plan to take the fight to the kind of mosquito that uniquely carries this virus.

U.K.-based Oxitec hopes to deploy a genetically modified strain of the male mosquito to mate with its wild, female counterpart.

CEO Hadyn Parry spoke with Reuters via Skype:

SOUNDBITE CEO HADYN PARRY SAYING:

“Now, a female mosquito can produce up to five hundred eggs in her lifetime, so that’s five hundred more mosquitoes coming into the world. But if she mates with one of ours, she will produce no viable offspring.”

The company says trials showed the modified mosquito slashed the number of wild larvae by over 80 percent.

Still, with no cure for microcephaly, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention is warning pregnant women to avoid travel to certain countries affected by the virus.

U.S. researchers are also urging the World Health Organization to heed the lesson of the Ebola epidemic last year …. and to act quickly against the outbreak.

Tags : Mosquito, fight, take, researchers, us, Reported, virus, Zika, more

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