Just Spraying Adult Mosquitoes Won't Curb Zika

Lab work suggests larvicide also needed to attack eggs and larvae

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By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Female mosquitoes can transmit the Zika virus to their eggs and offspring, and this may make it harder to contain outbreaks, a new lab study suggests.

Control programs that focus only on adult mosquitoes may not halt Zika's spread, the researchers warned.

The researchers injected laboratory-grown Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which spread the virus, with Zika and tracked its spread to their offspring.

"The implications for viral control are clear," said study co-author Dr. Robert Tesh, of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

"Spraying affects adults, but it does not usually kill the immature forms -- the eggs and larvae," said Tesh. As a result, "spraying will reduce transmission, but it may not eliminate the virus."

Based on their findings, the study authors say larvicide should become an integral part of efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

"Since Zika virus has emerged as a global health emergency, most research has focused on the virus and its effects on humans. There is far less research on the virus in its mosquito host," Tesh said.

"But if you want to control Zika, you also have to know about the behavior of this virus in mosquitoes," he added.

Zika virus can cause severe brain damage in newborns whose mothers were infected during pregnancy. While mosquito bites are the main source of transmission, experts say the virus can also be spread sexually.

The study was published online Aug. 29 in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

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SOURCE: American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, news release, Aug. 29, 2016
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