IAEA to help fight Zika virus

2016-03-08 22:16
(Eraldo Peres, AP)

(Eraldo Peres, AP)

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Vienna - The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) plans to help Latin American countries fight the Zika virus by providing irradiation technology to sterilise mosquitoes that carry the virus.

The IAEA's governing board decided on Tuesday to fund the effort with $3.1m in the coming four years.

"When you control the population of mosquitoes, you are actually controlling the virus," said deputy IAEA chief Aldo Malavasi, a Brazilian insect control expert.

The IAEA has been developing the so-called sterile insect technique to fight agricultural pests and diseases, such as the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus.

Male mosquitoes are exposed to short bursts of radiation before they are released into the environment in batches of 1 million per week to mate with females.

This method of bringing down mosquito populations will be started in September in Brazil.

The IAEA will provide irradiation equipment to Brazil and other Latin American countries, and it will also equip countries with diagnostic equipment that uses nuclear technology.

Zika mostly causes mild flu-like symptoms, but the current outbreak in the region has raised concerns because it has been accompanied by an unusually high number of babies born with malformed heads and of adults suffering from neurological side effects.

An expert panel of the World Health Organisation (WHO) was consulting on Tuesday to review its current recommendations. They have included improving disease monitoring and anti-mosquito measures, as well as boosting research into the relatively unknown virus.

Read more on:    iaea  |  brazil  |  zika virus

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