As many of you know, one of the most pressing global health issues that is taking the media by storm is the Zika virus, which as of recently has sparked more buzz due to the 2016 Summer Olympics that take place in the heart of Rio De Janeiro, a hot spot of the disease. This virus is spread through one particular species of mosquitoes, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and has deadly consequences. Aside from the temporary rash, sore eyes, a nasty headache and a raised temperature, this virus affects the unborn fetuses of pregnant women by causing many developmental issues in the brain. While this disease is not new to the world, a sudden outbreak stemming from the tropical regions of South America is causing a major stir, especially with the 2016 Summer Olympics being held there. Not only is this affecting the general population in Brazil, outsiders coming in and traveling back to their home countries run the high risk of catching this virus. So, take a large population of people from countries all over the world and bring in athletes, family members, and others that have a high risk of being infected and throw them into the middle of a Zika epidemic breeding ground.
So for researchers, to better protect society and the entire world perhaps, many precautions have been made, as well as, many possible answers to this deadly virus. For now, individuals in Brazil are told to protect against the bites of the mosquitoes by wearing long sleeve, tight clothes, use bug repellent, nets, and avoid common areas where these bugs breed. However, researchers are looking towards finding a way to wipe out the population of these mosquitoes further more to stop the epidemic from continuing. Perhaps one of the most interesting things I can pull from my time here at Michigan State was a research paper I wrote about scientists genetically modifying mosquitoes that carry diseases in order to wipe out the population as a whole. In order to do this, scientists have come up with two possible solutions: breed a population of offspring that can only have female offspring that are able to survive, essentially placing a self-destructing gene in males to prevent the mating and continuation of diseases, which in the case of my paper, was Malaria. The other was to genetically change the makeup of said mosquito to mate with other mosquitoes to be unable to produce an offspring, ending the species of the mosquito. However, in doing so ecological and ethical theories come into play, whether this killing of one species will throw off the entire ecosystem and what the detrimental effects this will cause. In addition to this, other ethical issues are being sparked, such as the right to abortion, as fetus that may and have been affected by the Zika virus could/possibly should be terminated to prevent a life of pan and suffering.
As of right now, the ethical decisions that must be made in combat against this deadly virus are for society as a whole to decide, both the life of a species and of an unborn human being.
Hanlon, Micheal. “How Scared Should We Be of the Zika Virus? ” The Sunday Times. Accessed August 11, 2016. http://za2uf4ps7f.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info%3Asid%2Fsummon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&rft.genre=article&rft.atitle=ZIKA+VIRUS%3F&rft.jtitle=Sunday+Times&rft.au=Michael+Hanlon&rft.date=2016-01-31&rft.pub=News+International+Trading+Limited&rft.issn=0956-1382&rft.externalDocID=3937757321¶mdict=en-US
Kindhauser, Mary Allen, a Tomas Allen, a Veronika Frank, a Ravi Santhana a & Christopher Dye. “Zika: The Origin and Spread of a Mosquito-borne Virus.” World Health Organization. Accessed August 10, 2016. http://www.who.int/bulletin/online_first/16-171082/en/.