The dangers posed by mosquitoes include not only the spread of known diseases like yellow fever, malaria and dengue but also the transmission of diseases in animals to human beings. The global zika fever outbreak in 2015 and 2016 is a good illustration of the latter. The zika virus that causes zika fever was first isolated in 1947 from a rhesus macaque monkey in Uganda. Between 1947 and 2007 there were only a handful of cases where there was a crossover of the virus into human beings.
After an outbreak in French Polynesia in October of 201, a large number of people in South and Central America developed symptoms of zika fever in 2015. The symptoms include a mild fever, conjunctivitis, headache, joint pain and a rash. As the year progressed, pregnant women who had contracted zika fever had babies with microcephaly. A condition where an underdeveloped brain resulted in an abnormally small head in an infant, microcephaly results in a greatly diminished intellectual capacity and poor motor skills in the affected person. Abnormal facial features, seizures, speech disabilities, seizures and dwarfism also occur. When governments and citizens realised not only that microcephaly was a consequence of zika fever but also that the zika virus was spreading at a breath-taking pace, they started to look for a quick solution to the problem.
Countries like the United States issued travel warnings to pregnant women asking them to avoid visiting countries affected by the zika virus. As scientists discovered that the disease could be sexually transmitted, health departments advised people on how to avoid transmitting the disease through sexual intercourse. By July 2016, zika had reached the Southern United States and by August of 2016, zika had reached Singapore. In the next few months, the disease spread to Malaysia and Vietnam.
While researchers are trying to discover a vaccine, there is no cure or treatment for the disease. The most effective way to check the rapid spread of zika fever is by eradicating the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the disease among human beings and animals. Brazilian researchers genetically modified the male Aedes Aegypti mosquito with a self-limiting gene. The strategy involves releasing a large number of these genetically modified male mosquitoes in the wild. When they mate with female mosquitoes their offspring die because of the self –limiting gene. In Singapore, the government has planned to release mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria into the wild. Owing to these bacteria, disease-causing viruses cannot survive in the mosquitoes and the spread of the disease is prevented.
The speed at which zika fever spread is a wake-up call to everybody about the importance of taking simple measures to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes. Mosquito control service play a crucial role in keeping the environment clean.