Zika Virus

By Samantha Fish and Emma Kelsey

What is Zika Virus?

Zika Virus is a viral infection that is spread by mosquitoes. Although it is usually not deadly, it can cause serious birth defects and sometimes moderate symptoms. Some symptoms include fever, rash, red eyes (conjunctivitis), and joint/muscle pain (CDC 2016). Because there is no vaccine, the only way to treat Zika is to hydrate, rest, and take pain relievers (Department of Health 2016). To prevent yourself from catching the illness, cover your skin at all times, use insect-repellent, and stay in a screen-in area as much as possible (Department of Health 2016).

What is currently being done to eliminate the spread of the Zika Virus?


Due to the large number of Zika breakouts that have been occurring recently, researchers are striving to find new ways to fight Zika. Currently, there are no vaccines for the Zika Virus, but doctors and scientists are working to discover one. Scientists have also developed genetically modified mosquitoes, and they are trying to raise money for Zika research and testing.


Although scientists haven't discovered a vaccine yet, they are working to raise money for Zika research, as well as educational programs for people with serious risk, specifically women. President Barack Obama has even issued a request for over 1.8 billion dollars to fight Zika (CDC 2016).


In addition to raising money, organizations like the CDC are distributing prevention kits in Puerto Rico that contain mosquito repellent and information for the treatment of the Zika Virus (HealthDay 2016). The kits also give information directed to women about how to avoid catching the illness.


Along with the prevention kits, the CDC is searching to discover an efficient insecticide to eliminate the spread of Zika. Dr. Tom Friedman states, " We are finding a wide resistance to some insecticides." (HealthDay 2016).


Finally, scientists have developed genetically modified mosquitoes that could restrain the Zika carrying mosquitoes from spreading the disease. A British organization, Oxitec, first introduced the G.M.O.s, which pass a special gene onto their offspring while mating that causes the child to die immediately (HealthDay 2016). These genetically modified mosquitoes could dramatically reduce the Zika- carrying population, as well as control the illness while scientists work to discover a vaccine. However, these organisms have caused great controversy because the effects of wiping out most of a mosquito population could be very severe.

Could we use G.M.O. mosquitoes to remove the Zika carrying mosquito population?


With Zika Virus on the rise, scientists are thinking of new ways to combat the illness. Oxitec, a British organization, has recently developed a creative method for preventing the spread of Zika (HealthDay 2016). The group introduced a new species of genetically modified male mosquitoes that could restrain the Zika carrying mosquitoes from spreading the disease. According to nlm.nih.gov, the G.M.O. mosquitoes pass a special gene onto their offspring while mating that causes the child to die immediately.


Some of the long-term benefits of the G.M.O.s are that they could dramatically reduce the Zika carrying mosquito population. Therefore, fewer people could catch the illness, and the disease would be more controlled while scientists work to discover a vaccine.


However, there are many drawbacks concerning the G.M.O.s. There is a chance that the modified mosquitoes may have unforeseen consequences. For instance, there could be a serious influence on the world if most of the mosquito population was wiped out (HealthDay 2016).


Despite the new advance, the genetically modified mosquitoes cannot be used until more research is done, and the organism must be approved by several government organizations (HealthDay 2016). Hopefully, a conclusion will be reached soon, and the mosquitoes will be a great help in the fight against the Zika Virus.

Bibliography

"In Zika Fight, FDA Gives Tentative OK to Tests of Gene-Modified Mosquito: MedlinePlus." U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 11 Mar. 2016. Web. 15 May 2016. <https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_157728.html>.

"Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Apr. 2016. Web. 15 May 2016. <http://www.cdc.gov/zika/symptoms/index.html>.

"Zika Virus – Information for Clinicians and Public Health Practitioners."Department of Health. N.p., 5 May 2016. Web. 15 May 2016. <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-zika-health-practitioners.htm#toc08>.


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