Nuclear technique used to control viral dengue in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Joint partition of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced about the availability of more advanced and cost-effective tools to defeat the mosquitoes spreading dengue through nuclear technique in Pakistan.

Nuclear technique used to control viral dengue in PakistanDengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection transmitted mainly by ‘Aedes’ mosquitoes, which typically breed in water containers. This virus cause symptoms like flu, lead to potentially lethal complications.

Nuclear technique is used to control disease at a large scale against agricultural pests around the world. Health officials in Pakistan are monitoring the developments and waiting for the outcomes of researches taking place in other countries of the world.

Rui Cardoso Pereria, head of the Insect Pest Control Section at the FAO/IAEA joint division of nuclear techniques in food and agriculture said  that “The focus of this research was to develop the sterile insect technique (SIT) package for disease-transmitting mosquitoes, with an emphasis on the ‘Aedes’ mosquito which transmit the ‘Zika’ virus, and to license this technology to the member states”.

SIT is an environmental-friendly insect pest control method developed by involving the mass-rearing and sterilization, using radiation, of a target pest, followed by the systematic area-wide release of the sterile males by ground or by air over defined areas. Released males mate with wild females resulting in no offspring, which leads to a declining pest population.

According to WHO, mosquito species is present in areas of more than half of the world’s population. In addition to the Zika virus, the ‘Aedes’ mosquito also carries viruses among others that cause chikungunya, yellow fever and dengue fever.

Large amount of investment spends to apply this technology in some countries. Economic assessment studies have reported benefits of using the technology which includes a significant losses reduction in crop and livestock production, protection of the horticultural and livestock industries through prevention of pest introductions,  providing conditions for commodity exports to high value markets without quarantine restrictions, protecting and creating jobs, significant reduction in cost of production and human health and environmental protection through a reduced use of insecticides.