Creve Coeur company aims to stop spread of Zika - KMOV.com

Creve Coeur company aims to stop spread of Zika

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Mosquito (Credit: KMOV) Mosquito (Credit: KMOV)

CREVE COEUR, Mo. (KMOV.com) – A Creve Coeur biotech company says it has a solution to stop the spread of the Zika virus.

The solution involves breeding and releasing millions of mosquitoes into the wild, which is not easy. But that particular part of the problem has been solved.

Experts say mosquitoes have been called the deadliest creatures on Earth, killing nearly three-quarters of a million people a year by spreading disease. Mosquitoes are also blamed for spreading the Zika virus.

Israel’s Forrest Innovations American headquarters is now at the Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

The company says they are working with the Brazilian government and plans to breed and release up to 25 million sterile male mosquitoes each week in Brazil starting in June.

Dr. Roy Borochov, U.S.A site lead for Forrest Innovations said, “this is not genetically modifying anything. It's only telling that gene to be turned off. The specific gene related to fertility can make male mosquitoes sterile.”

Experts say the male mosquitoes do not bite. Only the females need blood for egg development. There will be a reduction in pregnancy, biting and in population once the program begins.

According to experts, the Zika virus is linked to birth defects. The virus has already infected more than three million people across Latin America, hitting Rio particularly hard just months before the 2016 Summer Olympics.

“We have four months until the Olympics and that's our deadline. We'll be able to provide millions of mosquitoes every week to be spread over the area of the Olympics to keep that site clean,” said Borochov.

If the method proves to be successful, this type of program could be expanded.

According to experts, mosquitoes have developed a resistance to many pesticides.

“The mosquito and diseases are transferred and transferred quickly. Solutions have to be quick solutions. Solutions like vaccines take a long time until they mature. So we need quick solutions,” said Borochov.

Borochov says the approach means a reduction in the use of pesticides and there may come a day when they will not be needed at all.

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