The Zika virus is spreading across Florida. Five new local cases are reported in the Miami Beach area bringing the total to 36 across Florida.
CCTV America’s Steve Mort reports.
A new perfume may stop the future spread of ZikaUniversity students in Florida seek to create a new perfume that would confuse mosquitos and cause then to not either recognize humans, or to avoid them. CCTV America’s Steve Mort reports.
In Miami’s Wynwood district, extensive aerial spraying with insecticides has reduced the mosquito population, but cases of Zika keep appearing. Dozens of infections have been traced to this neighborhood as public health officials wage a seemingly losing war to stop its spread.
While this section of Miami has been the epicenter of locally contracted Zika cases in the United States, just a few miles away from here scientists are working on a solution to try to prevent similar outbreaks from happening in the future.
Matthew DeGennaro from Florida International University says current methods of preventing Zika transmission are only proving limited success. “They’ve seen a reduction in the population of mosquitoes but we’re still seeing transmission,” he said.
At DeGennaro’s lab, students are searching for a longer-term solution. By genetically modifying mosquitoes, these scientists hope to make them less attracted to human odor.
The aim is to develop a chemical that could be sprayed or embedded in clothes and jewelry that alters the receptors in a mosquito’s brain and changes its behavior.
“Our goal is to create a new perfume that would confuse mosquitos and cause then to not either recognize humans or avoid them,” DeGennaro said.
For student, Joshua Raji, finding a genetic solution is personal. He hopes it’ll help combat the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria in his home country of Nigeria.
But the scientists here say it could be as long as five years before a chemical that can genetically modify a mosquito’s sense of smell goes on sale to the public.
Until then, authorities here in Miami will need to use more traditional methods to fight the ongoing Zika threat.