Having "nailed it" with the feces-infused water for the Olympics, killed the golden goose of its economy, and unable to crackdown on widespread corruption, Brazil now has a 'great' idea to solve its utterly disastrous Zika epidemic... by zapping millions of male mosquitoes with gamma rays from drones to sterilise them.
As The Telegraph reports, Brazil is planning to fight the Zika virus by zapping millions of male mosquitoes with gamma rays to sterilise them and stop the spread of the virus linked to thousands of birth defects.
Called an irradiator, the device has been used to control fruit flies on the Portuguese island of Madeira. The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Monday it will pay to ship the device to Juazeiro, in the northeastern state of Bahia, as soon as the Brazilian government issues an import permit.Brazil is scrambling to eradicate the Aedes mosquito that has caused an epidemic of dengue and more recently an outbreak of Zika, a virus associated with an alarming surge in cases of babies born with abnormally small heads.
"It's a birth control method, the equivalent of family planning for humans," said Kostas Bourtzis, a molecular biologist with the IAEA's insect pest control laboratory.
The new epidemic threatens to scare visitors away from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August. A Brazilian non-profit organisation called Moscamed will breed up to 12 million male mosquitoes a week and then sterilise them with the cobalt-60 irradiator, produced by Canadian company MDS Nordion, said Dr Bourtzis.
After an initial programme in a dozen towns near Juazeiro, the Brazilian government would have to decide on scaling up the sterile mosquito production with more funding for use in cities, where they would be released from the air, possibly from drones, said Dr Bourtzis.What could possibly go wrong? And the question now is - will Olympic athletes be 'tested' for performance-enhancing gamma-radiation?
With no cure or vaccine available for Zika, which has spread to more than 30 countries, mostly in the Americas, the only way to contain the virus is to reduce the mosquito population.
Brazilian researchers are also experimenting with radiation. The Fiocruz biomedical research institute has released 30,000 sterile mosquitoes on an island 217 miles off the coast of northeast Brazil.