View of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacterium --which reduces mosquito transmitted diseases such as dengue and chikungunya by shortening adult lifespan, affect mosquito reproduction and interfere with pathogen replication-- at the Oswaldo Cruz foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on October 2, 2014. The mosquitoes, when released, are expected to quickly infiltrate the insect population and stop the spread of the disease. Small-scale trials have already been conducted in communities in northern Australia.
WHO: Zika virus spreading to almost all the Americas
02:01 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: Ford Vox is a physician specializing in rehabilitation medicine and a journalist. He is a medical analyst for NPR station WABE-FM 90.1 in Atlanta. He writes frequently for CNN Opinion. Follow him on Twitter @FordVox. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Story highlights

Ford Vox: Zika virus threat is real and could spread. Beating it means openness to innovation in both technology and policy

He says arresting affected mosquito populations by introducing sterile male mosquitoes among them has promise

Vox: Agencies must give realistic advice, including that women should carefully consider travel to affected regions

CNN  — 

When I think about public health recommendations, I think about what I would want for my own family, and in this case, for my own wife. I don’t think in terms of population management and rationing as a disease control officer must do.

What to do about the Zika virus?

As this – another viral disease – emerges, we’re again facing down a primordial threat that reminds us we are animals in an ecosystem. It’s an ecosystem that’s changing with us and because of us. Beating back Zika will require openness to innovation in both technology and policy.

The primary mosquito species now transmitting Zika virus throughout numerous countries in the Americas, Aedes aegypti, actually evolved alongside humans to target us specifically, versus other animals.

Now it is spreading its domain, due to the warming climate and its predilection for our built-up environment. Mosquitos have already altered human history before by causing millions of deaths via the spread of yellow fever and Dengue, two viruses that are closely related to Zika.

Some 3,893 cases of microcephaly in infants (and untold miscarriages) in Brazil alone appear linked to the Zika virus.