UN: Stopping Zika may require genetically modified insects

A trap holds mosquitos at the Dallas County Mosquito Lab, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Hutchins, Texas, that had been set up near the location of a confirmed Zika virus infection. Although there has been no reported cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitos in Texas, health officials are closely monitoring and testing mosquitos in areas where infections have been confirmed. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
A trap holds mosquitos at the Dallas County Mosquito Lab, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Hutchins, Texas, that had been set up near the location of a confirmed Zika virus infection. Although there has been no reported cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitos in Texas, health officials are closely monitoring and testing mosquitos in areas where infections have been confirmed. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

 

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization says it might be necessary to use controversial methods like genetically modified mosquitoes to wipe out the insects that are now spreading Zika across the Americas.

The virus has been linked to a spike in babies born with abnormally small heads in Brazil and French Polynesia. WHO has declared Zika a global emergency, even though there is no definitive proof it is causing the birth defects.

READ MORE: Two more cases of Zika reported in Ohio

In a statement on Tuesday, WHO said its advisory group has recommended further field trials of genetically modified mosquitoes, following trials in the Cayman Islands where sterile male mosquitoes were released to mate with wild females.

READ MORE: New rules for blood donors in response to Zika virus

Environmentalists have previously criticized this approach, saying it’s impossible to know the long-term effects of wiping out an entire insect population.

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