3 ways to combat Zika, from mosquito-eating fish to fogging

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Genetically engineered mosquitoes to combat Zika
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3 ways to combat Zika, from mosquito-eating fish to fogging
PIRACABA, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11 :A Biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in the city on February 11, 2016 in Piracicaba, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A biologist works on putting blood on iron plates to feed the females of the nursery that produces genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A biologist works on putting blood on iron plates to feed the females of the nursery that produces genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
PIRACABA, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11 :A Biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in the city on February 11, 2016 in Piracicaba, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
PIRACABA, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11 :A Biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in the city on February 11, 2016 in Piracicaba, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: The Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, is producing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Campinas Daily are released 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito. These mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and win the battle because they were outnumbered. After the breeding season, the natural females lay eggs that are not genetically modified Zika virus transmitters. (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
PIRACABA, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11 :A Biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in the city on February 11, 2016 in Piracicaba, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified male mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified male mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist work with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - FEBRUARY 10: Yira Paulino, an entomologist, works with Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus at a laboratory of the National Center for the Control of Tropical Diseases (CENCET) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on February 10, 2016. (Photo by Stringer /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - FEBRUARY 10: Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are seen at a laboratory of the National Center for the Control of Tropical Diseases (CENCET) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on February 10, 2016. (Photo by Stringer /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) -- The mosquito-borne Zika virus, 'strongly suspected' of links to birth defects in babies in Brazil, has spread to more than 30 countries in the Americas.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak an international health emergency on Feb. 1.

At least 12 groups are working to develop a Zika vaccine but the WHO says licensed products could take "a few years" to reach the market.

Health authorities are trying to eliminate the places where mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, such as buckets, flower pots and tires.

Some countries have turned to other methods to prevent the spread of Zika.

MOSQUITO-EATING FISH

In El Salvador, the Sambo fish is being hailed as one weapon against the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the Zika, dengue and chikungunya viruses.

Sambo fish eat the mosquitoes' larvae in water.

Health workers and volunteers nationwide are distributing Sambo fish which are placed in water tanks and open containers used to store water in schools, restaurants and homes.

"These have been successful ... the central effort should be to mobilize the whole society against the Zika-carrying mosquito," Eduardo Espinoza, El Salvador's vice minister of health, recently wrote in a letter to the New York Times.

FOGGING

Pesticide spraying is being stepped up across Latin America, particularly in Brazil and Colombia that have the highest number of reported Zika cases.

Trucks are spraying city streets, shopping malls and cemeteries with pesticide fog to kill adult mosquitoes.

Health experts warn fogging may not kill mosquito larvae in hard-to-reach places such as under beds and in closets unless residents open their windows to let in the pesticide mist.

In Brazil, the government has mounted a door-to-door campaign and authorized public health officials to enter properties by force to search for breeding spots and use indoor foggers, pesticides that stick to walls.

GENETICALLY MODIFIED MOSQUITOES

In Piracicaba city in Brazil's Sao Paulo state, genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have been released in mosquito-infested areas, a new weapon against Zika.

When genetically modified male mosquitoes mate with females of the same species, their offspring die at the larva stage.

This strain was developed by Oxitec, the UK subsidiary of U.S. synthetic biology company Intrexon.

Oxitec has said it released 25 million of its OX513A mosquitoes in a neighborhood of Piracicaba between April and November and reduced the number of wild larvae of the Aedes mosquito there by 82 percent.

It has said it will start a new factory in Piracicaba to rear more genetically modified mosquitoes that will "have capacity to protect over 300,000 people."

Health authorities in Panama are also considering releasing millions of GM mosquitoes to stem the spread of the Zika virus.

"Fogging followed by the controlled release of genetically modified mosquitoes may be worth considering for halting the spread of Zika," the WHO said this week.

Zika Outbreak Rising: See How Genetics Can Help

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