the World Health Organization declared Zika virus a highly
significant long-term problem rather than a global health
am concerned that this is a bit premature and sends the wrong
message," says Dr. Gregory Poland, director of Mayo
Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group. "Summer is just
starting in the Southern Hemisphere, and we don’t yet know
what will happen. I understand why they made the decision,
which is to signal the idea that Zika is here to stay. But
this should be viewed more as a chronic issue — much like
malaria, for example. The reality is that we are likely to see
further spread of this disease into areas not previously
affected, including within the U.S., and we still have a lot
to learn about this virus and disease."
Food and Drug Administration approved the use of genetically
modified mosquitoes in Florida and says open field trials of
the OX513A genetically engineered mosquito have been conducted
in Brazil, the Cayman Islands, Malaysia and Panama to help
combat mosquito-borne illnesses such as Zika virus.
they have done is created a male mosquito that will mate with
a female, and the female lays sterile eggs that don’t
hatch," says Poland. "In Brazil, where they’ve
tried this, they reduced the mosquito population by 95
percent. They want to do experiments like that in the U.S. but
ran into some environmental concerns that have, for the most
part, been dealt with. I believe those experiments are
scheduled to begin in the near future."
trials may begin in 2017 after voters in Florida approved use
of genetically modified mosquitoes as a tool to fight Zika.
think this mosquito-borne virus is changing over time,"
says Poland. "When the initial infections occurred in
Africa, we didn’t see some of these chronic complications.
Now, the Asian strain seems to be causing more complications.
The other thing is that in a world where there is global
warming where there is massive global movement of people and
airline travel we are seeing more mosquito-borne illness in
the U.S. that only used to be in the Southern Hemisphere. We’re
seeing dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika virus. These are
diseases we did not really see in the U.S., but, now, we are
seeing increasing numbers of cases and spread from state to