|Global map of the predicted distribution of Aedes albopictus, another mosquito of the Aedes family that researchers believe transmits the Zika virus. (1 = Full presence of Aedes mosquito, 0= No presence of Aedes mosquito) Source|
Medical research charity warns: "Expect ZIKA to spread to India and Africa". (Guardian).
The Zika virus, which causes brain damage in babies, is likely to spread to India and the continent of Africa, according to the director of the Wellcome Trust, a medical charity deeply involved in research to try to limit the damage.
“I think we can anticipate global spread,” said Jeremy Farrar, speaking to the Guardian alongside Sue Desmond-Hellmann, the chief executive officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “Given the [Aedes aegypti] mosquito’s availability across the world, I think the spread will next be across Asia and I think we really have to be prepared for it spreading in Africa. I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t.”
Last month, 16 pregnant women in Singapore were confirmed to have zika virus. “You can anticipate reports from Vietnam, from Indonesia, from India. I don’t think we’re even at the start of the Zika knowledge base yet,” said Farrar.
The two philanthropic organisations, together with the Brazilian, US and UK governments, have announced $18m (£14.7m) funding for an ambitious project to release mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria in two urban areas of Brazil and Colombia. The bacteria renders the mosquitoes unable to transmit viruses. They breed with local mosquitoes, producing offspring with Wolbachia, a bacteria carried by 60% of insects that is harmless to humans.
If it works, it will help limit not just Zika but also other flaviviruses, including dengue and yellow fever. Read the full story here.