Aiming to prevent the further spread of the dangerous mosquito-borne Zika virus in Brazil, male insects might be exposed to X- or Gamma rays to irradiate their sperm, the UN’s nuclear agency announced on Tuesday. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the so-called Sterile Insect Technology (SIT) can help tackle the outbreak which has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). IAEA experts are set to meet with Brazilian officials on February, 16, Reuters reported.
Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador are among other states that have also requested the technology from the UN atomic agency. “If Brazil released a huge number of sterile males, it would take a few months to reduce the population,” IAEA Deputy Director General Aldo Malavasi told reporters on Tuesday, adding that other methods of fighting the dangerous insects should not be off the table. The method involves exposing laboratory-bred male mosquitoes to nuclear radiation, and making their sperm sterile before their release into the wild to mate with the females. Mosquito eggs from such copulation never hatch, helping reduce populations of the insect. FULL REPORT