In the wake of the outbreak of the deadly mosquito-borne infection called Zika in Brazil and other parts of America, researchers once again have turned to technology to combat a perilous health challenge. It has been estimated that the Zika virus is presently poised to affect 4 million lives worldwide. Let’s try to explore the much discussed connect between Zika and technology.
Judging the efficacy of technology in fighting Zika
The question lingers. What is the scope of technology when it comes to addressing Zika? Are we looking at technology as a scalable solution for Zika or just a part of the bells and whistles? Browsing through this particular post will help you understand.
Technology and Zika: The Initiatives and more
A few days back Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg almost made a clarion call to community members to fight the virus by raising awareness. He took to the social networking site to announce the collaboration between Facebook and non-profit Abrasco Divulga in Brazil as part of this noble effort, which they plan to introduce across Latin America as well. Zuckerberg, went on to point out how the virus has spread across twenty countries and assumed the shape of the biggest health challenge in recent times. He rued the lack of proper medicines to address the present situation but shared a video featuring valuable advice for pregnant women (the virus is primarily known to affect pregnant ladies thereby engendering brain damage for their babies). Here is the video shared by him:
From Awareness to Execution: Gene Drive
Genetic drive is hailed as a potent weapon in the fight against these virus carrying mosquitoes. This particular technology is much more powerful than the simplistic genetic modification and entails the distribution of genes to a vast population of mosquitoes. Scientists are hopeful about the total extinction of this population of mosquitoes if it works as effectively as is expected. While genetic modification of mosquitoes entails the creation of modified male mosquitoes for killing local population, genetic drive has a much wider scope, whereby it can wipe off a vast number of disease carrying mosquitoes.
While people in general are yet to approve of genetic modification, let us tell you that the technology under consideration here has the power to spread an altered gene through the vast population of malaria carrying mosquitoes thereby enabling them resist a parasite which is presently responsible for killing over 400,000 people a year.
Besides the obvious and more powerful technological ways of fighting the Zika virus, there are some who believe that our cell phones can be used for tracking Zika hot spots across the globe and step up efforts to prevent the same as well. Pakistan and Africa have already utilized this technology in their struggle against dengue and malaria respectively. Not only can phones be used for tracking places affected by Zika but also for predicting which areas might as well be affected in future. Once the data regarding the places affected, is collected, the same can be used for future predictions, pertaining to the possible spread of the disease. (Source: https://www.technologyreview.com/).