Canada has developed a new device touted to help the global fight against Zika virus. The Zika outbreak, which originated from Brazil, has now reached the United States, Cape Verde in Africa, and plenty of countries in the Americas such as Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.
The new device was created in Waterloo, Ontario by a team from Maxtech Consumers Products Ltd. (MCPL), an innovative design and manufacturing group. According to CTV News, the device contains a solution that can attract female mosquitoes with its scent. Once the mosquitoes converge, an artificial breeding zone has been created where they can lay their eggs. Before those eggs hatch, they will be drained into filters that would kill them.
Maxtech project manager Mark Smith claimed that the device is capable of drastically destroying mosquito populations in just 21 days. The device is free from chemicals and is environmentally safe.
The device was developed for seven years and was originally planned to be donated to Brazil in time for the Rio Olympic Games 2016. That plan, however, didn't push through because of a long approval process.
Now, Maxtech plans to donate hundreds of boxes of the device worth $50,000 to the local government of Florida to aid its fight against the Zika virus. The Zika outbreak in Florida continues to expand, with two neighborhoods in Miami already seeing 37 people infected with the virus, according to NPR.
Kacee Vasudeva, CEO of Maxtech, said Florida can distribute the device to schools, playgrounds, and to people who are unable to purchase them. The company believes that "one child born with microcephaly is too much," noted Vasudeva, and they are hoping to prevent Zika virus from infecting people as much as they can. Maxtech is working on getting approval to clear the device's distribution in other areas hit by the Zika outbreak such as South America.
Pregnant mothers infected with Zika can transfer the virus to their unborn child. Babies with Zika have microcephaly, a congenital condition where they have abnormally small heads and incomplete brain development. Microcephaly can cause seizures and developmental delays, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are no vaccines for Zika yet, though companies have been developing some. A DNA-based vaccine from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has entered an early-stage trial this month. However, a safe, effective, and fully licensed vaccine against the Zika virus will not be available for a number of years.
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