Bacteria should prevent the spread of Zika and other viruses from mosquitoes to humans. Mosquitos in Brazil and Colombia will be infected in 2017.

REUTERS/ALVIN BAEZ
REUTERS/ALVIN BAEZ

Health authorities in Brazil and Colombia will infect mosquitoes with a bacterium that should prevent them from infecting people with the Zika virus. Wolbachia bacteria occur naturally in some species of mosquitoes and reduces virus transmission probabilities for humans, according to Reuters.

The plan is to release mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Antioquia, Colombia, next year, so that they procreate with mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus.

It will be created naturally a new generation of mosquitoes infected with the virus and the bacteria that can not infect humans with Zika.

This solution has been tested in recent years by researchers at the service of the Program to Eliminate Dengue, created in Australia. Scientists have found a way to pass the bacteria to the species of the Aedes aegypti mosquito responsible for transmitting Dengue, Yellow Fever, the Chikungunya and Zika now.

Experiments have yielded positive results in five countries – including Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam, as the Guardian – and within a few months showed that the majority of mosquitoes carrying the bacteria that can protect humans. When this happens, cases of contamination decrease.

The new large-scale campaign to combat the Zika virus, considered by the World Health Organization as an emergency global public health, is expected to cost $ 18 million and will be financed by the British and US governments and two charitable foundations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust global.

“The use of Wolbachia is a possible innovative and sustainable solution to reduce the impact of outbreaks worldwide and especially among the poorest people,” said Secretary of British international development Priti Patel, according to Reuters.

Trevor Mundel, director of the global health department of the Gates Foundation, said he hopes that this bacterium can bring “a revolutionary way to protect against mosquito-borne diseases.” “It is affordable, sustainable and seems to protect the Zika, dengue and other viruses,” Mundell said in a statement, according to Reuters, and declaring themselves eager to see the results in the poorest countries.

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