Bayer Helping To Fight Zika Epidemic

Following a steep increase of Zika cases in Latin American countries, the World Health Organization has announced a global Public Health Emergency. Here is how Bayer supports the WHO in their fight against the transmitter of the Zika disease: Aedes aegypti.

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Aedes type mosquitoes have been in the focus of Bayer vector control for decades, because they transmit dangerous diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Bayer can now leverage this comprehensive expertise to support the international fight against Zika. The disease is suspected to be related to brain damage in newborns (microcephaly) in several South and Central American countries.

As a leader in vector control, Bayer is active worldwide and offers a complete package to control Aedes: Larvicides fight the Aedes larvae that live in the many urban water reservoirs; residual sprays impregnate surfaces in the homes; and space sprays help to reduce Aedes populations in the outdoor environment. All of these tools have been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) to fight the mosquito and Bayer works in close collaboration with regional authorities and municipalities to train implementers and support the distribution of information.

Bayer is a vital player in fighting Zika in Brazil

In the current emergency situation in Brazil, Bayer has stepped up its insecticide production to cope with the unexpected demand. Bayer also supports the national information efforts to help people protect themselves against mosquitoes. Bayer's research station in Paulinia serves as an education and training hub for Vector Control. "We are fully aware of the key role that vector control can play to contribute to mitigating the spread of the current Zika epidemics, and we are putting all our effort into supplying sustainable solutions in a fast and flexible manner," said Frederico Belluco, Head of Marketing for Latin America.

Countries/regions with active Zika virus transmission (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Educating people, including Bayer employees, on good practices to protect themselves against the Zika epidemic is also critical. In Brazil, Bayer has taken a series of measures to support this effort: activities with national media are taking place and give the floor to Bayer experts such as Luis Fernando Macul, Head of Marketing and Innovation for Environmental Science Latin America, who gave an interview about the Aedes Aegypti mosquito in the laboratory of Bayer CropScience in Paulinia.

Since December 2015, about 20 interviews on major Brazilian TV channels featured Bayer experts. In parallel, Bayer experts leverage social media like YouTube and Facebook to give guidance on the use of insecticides. On Facebook, for example, our spokesman Fernando Bernardini explains how to use the insecticide in the right way to repel the mosquito.

What are the signs and symptoms of the Zika disease?

People infected with the Zika virus may experience fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise and headache, lasting for 2-7 days. But all of these symptoms are usually mild and some people do not show any symptoms at all. However, the suspected number of cases of microcephaly, a rare brain defect in babies, has risen in Brazil since the surge of the Zika disease in October, even though the connection has not been scientifically confirmed. WHO is studying the potential link and we hope their results will soon be available. So far, there is no treatment or vaccination against Zika.

How do I recognize an Aedes aegypti mosquito, and what are its features?

It is a small mosquito, with distinct black and white markings. It bites during the day, prefers human blood, and likes to lay eggs in small containers filled with standing water. The lifespan of an adult Aedes aegypti is two to four weeks. It is one of the three most important vector species which impacts human beings. The other ones are anopheles (malaria) and culex (filariasis, West Nile virus).

What can we do in our daily lives to protect ourselves against Zika?

The community plays an important role in mitigating the spread of the disease. We call on everyone to eliminate potential breeding sites around their homes and in their neighbourhoods: small water reservoirs, such as plant water cups, old tires, bird feeders and bottles, are ideal breeding sites for Aedes. To prevent mosquito bites, install protective screens on the windows, and apply insect repellent every 2-3 hours according to label instructions. Residual surface sprays will fight the mosquito when it rests on walls and surfaces.