Zika is an emerging and contagious virus that has been spreading in countries all around the world especially the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific Islands. It wasn’t until 2015 that this became a global matter, the virus made it to Brazil where more than 1,300,000 cases were recorded. The main contributing factor and transmitter of this virus is the mosquito Aedes aegypti.
Brazil, became one of the first city to approve the use GM mosquito to control the population. In April 2015 at São Paulo, the collaboration between Oxitec, a UK based company, resulted in the release of the GM mosquitoes in a neighborhood of about 5,000 people resulted in the reduction of the larvae population by 82% compared to an untreated area (Waltz, 2016, pg.222). The GM method targets a single species in this case the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. If multiple vector species are present but some are well controlled by other methods, genetic control may be useful as part of integrated vector management (Alphey,2014). According to Fred Gould, an entomologist at North Carolina State University, ” Even if it only worked in specific, smaller cities, that’s one piece of the puzzle”( Waltz 2016 pg. 222). Although, mosquitoes are the main factors, there are several other environmental and local factors, such as pesticides, sanitation, and water infrastructure that links with the virus as well.
News about the GM mosquitoes spread like fire throughout Brazil, other cities wanted to collaborate with Oxitec, but lacked the resources due to the high cost and time consumption. One of the biggest challenge is winning public acceptance, since biogenetic is still a new field, it can be difficult to collect proofs and evidences to support the benefits of GM mosquitoes and its impact. (Alphey, 2014) .
According to (Diallo, 2017), ” investigations and data collections were conducted several months after the detection of the outbreak attributed to delays in diagnosis and reporting of cases due to lack of knowledge of the disease by physicians.” At this point, the mosquito populations are usually low or have completely disappeared due to weather changes. During the outbreaks, reports have shown struggles in keeping track of Zika-infected households due to the lack of evidences of the cause of the virus whether it was from the owners’ household or during the course of normal day-to-day movements. The sampling method of using people who are affected with the virus as mosquito collectors indicated that they are less likely to succeed because the people who are affected with the virus are still likely to be exposed to other airborne viruses and viruses transmitted by mosquitoes. Another common failure to detect ZIKV in mosquitoes is that vector control is undertaken too quickly. The vector squad would eliminate the infected population without any means of collecting samples for testing and identification which can cause delays in providing necessary public health interventions.
Although, GM mosquitoes have been proven by companies like Oxitec in helping to reduce the affected population, there were evidences that clearly states the failures of this method.