Mosquito-eating fish used to fight Zika virus in Latin America – USA TODAY

8 months ago Comments Off on Mosquito-eating fish used to fight Zika virus in Latin America – USA TODAY

With the Zika virus spreading toward the United States, threatening pregnant mothers and the 2016 Olympics, aid workers have placed hope in a familiar fish.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia-based non-profit Operation Blessing helped avert an outbreak of the West Nile virus in New Orleans by supplying abandoned swimming pools full of water – ideal breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitos – with fish that feast on mosquito larva.

Now the group hopes to halt the spread of the Zika virus in Central America by breeding and distributing fish that can eat mosquitos’ larva before the insects mature and carry the disease, which has been linked to an epidemic of birth defects in Brazil and spread quickly throughout Latin America.

Based out of Mexico’s Acapulco area, Operation Blessing is working in El Salvador to supply a mosquito-eating fish called Sambo—one native to the area—that families can place in sinks and containers where drinking water is stored, CBN reports.

El Salvador’s Vice Minister of Health, Eduardo Espinoza, has hailed the Sambo fish as a successful method in reducing the virus, and multiple groups have distributed it nationwide.

Operation Blessing plans to curb the disease in Mexico by working with its government to distribute a similar fish native to that country called Gambusia.

The non-profit is also in talks with the government of Honduras, according to CBN, an affiliate of the non-profit.

Bill Horan, president of Operation Blessing, said the fish provide a uniquely effective option for combatting diseases known to be carried by the mosquitos.

“Mosquito bed nets are not as effective as they were for most because the Aedes Aegypti sleeps at night,” he told the network. “They don’t bite often at night.”

In the U.S., health officials in several states have confirmed human cases of the virus, none acquired locally. The disease can also spread through blood transfusions and sex.

[h/t CBN]

Follow Josh Hafner on Twitter: @joshhafner

Mosquito-eating fish used to fight Zika virus in Latin America – USA TODAY

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