Zika Virus

Maddie Deutsch and Delaney Noel

What is the Zika virus?

The zika disease is a virus that is generally spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. The symptoms from this virus are usually joint pain, red eyes, a rash, or a fever. These symptoms are only present for several days to a week. Once a person is bitten, it is unlikely that they will contract the disease again. A pregnant woman is more at risk than a non-pregnant woman because, the baby can get a serious birth defect called microephaly (Microephaly is a birth defect that causes an abnormally small head.). The infants are also at risk to other severe fetal brain defects.

Zika was actually first discovered in 1947. It is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. In 1952, the first human Zika cases were reported. Since then cases have been reported in Tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and Pacific Islands. February 1, 2016 the first Zika case in Brazil was reported. Zika virus will likely spread to new locations. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there has been over 500 cases of Zika recorded in the US.

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Centers for Disease Control

Laboratory-confirmed Zika virus disease cases reported to ArboNET by state or territory — United States, 2015–2016 (as of May 11, 2016)

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

Zika Prevention

According to MedlinePlus, there are no current vaccines to the Zika virus. CDC recommends that when entering a Zika infected zone, to take heavy precautions.

-Wear long-sleeves, long socks, pants, gloves, and/or a hat.

-Use clothing coated with permethrin

-Use insect repellent

-Remove standing water from any outside containers

-If sleeping outside, use mosquito-free shelter/tents.

To relieve Zika symptoms, CDC also recommends to drink plenty of fluids. Get plenty of rest and take tylenol to relieve pain and fever. Do NOT take any nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory until a health care professional confirms you do not have dengue.

Elimination of the Spread of Zika

According to CDC, they're supporting labs in Puerto Rico and around the United States. They're working to provide testing and are using cutting-edge genomic methods in this effort. They're also working with Puerto Rico and other places at risk to improve mosquito control before we head into warmer weather.

Could we use GMO mosquitoes to remove Zika carrying population?

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Using GMOs

The Harvard Gazette recently interviewed an associate professor about deploying GMO mosquitoes against the Zika infected mosquitoes, this is what was found.

The Aedes aegypti is a type of mosquito that is an excellent vector and can harbor and transmit many viruses such as Zika. Florida had originally planned on using transgenic mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, against the dengue virus. This same strategy can be used to prevent Zika too. They want to modify the mosquito genome so they won't be able to reproduce.You can generate Aedes aegypti mosquito toxins that are repressed in the lab. Once that mosquito is released, the repressor is no longer there, the toxin is activated, and the mosquito is killed. The toxin is active during early development of larvae so, if the mosquitoes are released, and they mate with the wild mosquito, their progeny would have the toxin. If the larva has the toxin but doesn' have the repressor, it wouldn't be able to reproduce for the next generation. This way, you would reduce the population of Zika infected mosquitoes. It wouldn't directly eliminate all of the Zika carrying population, but it would reduce it greatly.


-"About Zika Virus Disease." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 Feb. 2016. Web. 14 May 2016.

-"CDC Director: What We’re Doing about the Zika Virus." CDC Director Blog Thoughts from CDC Director Tom Frieden MD MPH. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2016.

-"Deploying Mosquitoes against Zika." Harvard Gazette. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2016.

-"Zika Virus Disease in the United States, 2015–2016." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 05 May 2016. Web. 14 May 2016.

-"Zika Virus Disease: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia." U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 14 May 2016.

Zika Virus: What We Know (And What We Don't)