Mosquito control: can it stop Zika at source? | Source: WHO, Feb 17 2016
Aedes aegypti, the principal mosquito species that transmits the Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses, has a number of breeding and behavioural quirks that make it extremely difficult to control. This article looks at conventional and new techniques for control and summarizes WHO guidance.
The possibility that a mosquito bite during pregnancy could be linked to severe birth defects in newborns has alarmed the public and astonished scientists. Detection of an upsurge in cases of microcephaly, associated in time and place with Zika virus circulation, has been accompanied by findings of additional congenital malformation of the brain, detected in fetuses (by ultrasound), stillbirths, and newborns, and evidence of damage to eyesight and hearing. For women of childbearing age living in or visiting affected countries, the prospect of giving birth to a baby with such severe defects is terrifying.
The association of virus circulation with an increased detection of Guillain-Barré syndrome adds to the concern. GBS is an autoimmune disorder with various causes, including infections with some viruses and bacteria, most commonly Campylobacter jejuni. To date, an association between Zika virus circulation and an increased incidence of GBS has been reported in 8 countries: French Polynesia, Brazil, El Salvador, the French territory of Martinique, Colombia, Suriname, the Bolvarian Republic of Venezuela, and Honduras. In some of these countries, the fact that Zika is the only circulating flavivirus adds weight to this presumed association. Even in countries with advanced health systems, around 5% of patients with the syndrome die, despite immunotherapy. Many require treatment, including ventilatory support, in an intensive care unit, sometimes for months up to a year, adding to the burden on health services.
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