The persistent proliferation of the Zika disease has kept experts concerned on all fronts. With the spread of the virus becoming global, there may be a need to institute an unorthodox countermeasure.
Over the past year, Zika has been prevalent in at least 50 nations. Around 2,200 cases of babies with microcephaly, which is manifested by small heads and brain problems, have been monitored.
As the outbreak of this medical condition continues to get worse, scientists plan to mobilize controlled mosquitoes against their fellow insects.
As the campaign to rid Brazil, Colombia and nearby countries of the disease, bugs treated with bacteria will be released across the affected areas. The objective here is to infect the Zika-carrying mosquitoes with the Wolbachia microbe.
As millions of these tiny creatures invade the wild, experts hope that they will mate with the local mosquitoes.
The Wolbachia bacteria has been chosen as the invasive catalyst since it is harmless to people but useful against Zika-transmitting insects. It is a naturally-occurring organism that has been able to infect 60 percent of the bug species globally.
The initial experimental program will be launched in Bello, Colombia and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil next year. Medical experts have been closely monitoring these places for three years already.
If the campaign becomes successful, about two million people will be secured against the virus. It is also being eyed that the propagation of infected creatures will stop the dengue and chikungunya infections.
According to Dr Philip McCall, a medical entomologist studying mosquito control at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the program can control the spread of the disease but the campaign should be sustained for ten years.
When employed, Wolbachia will bolster the mosquito's immune system. This is necessary since it will become resistant to viruses. Once immunity has been established, the bacteria will be able to suck the resources inside the insect's body which the virus lean upon to replicate.
The approach has been developed at Monash University over the last decade. However, it is only in March that the WHO credited the initiative.
Dr. Trevor Mundel of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation shares that Wolbachia provides crucial protection against the disease.