Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Killing mosquitos that spread the Zika virus

Mosquitos that cause dengue and chikungunya are prevalent in many parts of India. What is worrisome is that this type of mosquito is also known to spread the Zika virus that causes a mild infection in adults, but often causes serious brain damage to unborn babies. So far, the Zika pandemic seems to have only covered a number of countries in the Americas. Can it spread to India and other Asian countries? Tests had been run in India in 1953 and it was found that many of those tested had immunity to the Zika virus, indicating that they had been exposed to it. This was before the first case of a Zika infection in a human was reported elsewhere! Visit
A Zika pandemic could have serious consequences if it hits India, where a few hundred million are exposed to mosquito bites every year. A significant fraction of the population could be seriously affected because of inadequate knowledge of health related matters and inability to protect themselves due to poverty. Children with brain damage would be an impossible burden for them to bear.
India should, therefore, investigate all possible methods of combating the spread of the Zika virus. I would like to mention here the drug Ivermectin, which is being given to dogs in the US to protect them against a serious disease spread by mosquitos. Visit
for related information. Research students in disciplines such as pharmacy, medicine, or veterinary medicine should investigate if giving Ivermectin to dogs kills mosquitos that bite them. The only thing that can be done with the current level of knowledge is lab research under the supervision of an ethics committee. One of the questions to be answered by research is whether the drug can be given to dogs in adequate doses for the purpose for several weeks without causing bad side-effects.
The research proposed may do some good to the dogs involved. A mosquito borne disease called the heart-worm disease poses a serious risk to dogs, and Ivermectin is used to kill the parasites that cause this disease. This drug, being toxic to invertebrates and relatively harmless to vertebrates, would kill fleas and also de-worm the dogs. The drug’s toxicity to invertebrates is what makes it worthwhile to test it for effectiveness as a mosquito killer.
A related question is whether Ivermectin given to smaller animals such as rats or mice would be effective in killing mosquitos that feed on them. It is known that mosquitos identify animals from a distance and are attracted to bite them.

1 comment:

Srinivasan Ramani said...

You may wish to read about other novel methods of fighting the spread of the Zika virus: Moving in for the kill Ref: The Hindu, Feb 5, 2016