A new study looking at the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus known to be responsible for some irreversible congenital anomalies in newborns finds it could also be harmful to male fertility.

The virus has been shown to hit the male mice’s reproductive system hard as virus-infected mice demonstrated shrunken testicles and exhibited lower levels of testosterone.

Virus found to harm the male reproductive system

This is the first evidence pointing to serious Zika dangers for men, as the disease has been mostly associated with the dangers for pregnant women, contextually microcephaly where their babies are potentially born with abnormally small heads.

Dr. Michael Diamond of Washington University in St. Louis who conducted the research says that even though the study is still contained to mice, it is “worrisome enough” to warrant greater attention because of the significant potential implications in humans.

"We saw significant evidence of destruction of the seminiferous tubules [of the testes], which are important for generating new sperm," said Diamond, a professor of pathology, immunology and molecular microbiology.

In rarer cases Zika may also trigger Guillain-Barre syndrome followed by paralysis and leading to death. There is a warrant for concern at this stage as the findings although limited to mice may have possible implications in humans unidentified as yet.

Pioneering and success stories in Zika containment in Singapore

On a more positive note in our local scenes, a series of small scale field-studies was pioneered by the residents of Braddell Heights in carrying out male Aedes mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria in a bid to control the mosquito population in Singapore this week.

The stipulation of sterilisation of mosquitoes by allowing male mosquitoes which are infected with the Wolbachia bacteria to mate with the females. The resultant eggs do not hatch due to the bacteria and such pioneering activity could have been what contributed to the recent Zika cluster being closed with no active cases.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) announced the first and largest local Zika cluster at Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive closed after no new cases of infection were identified for two consecutive weeks. This has given rise to the World Health Organisation (WHO) setting Singapore as a “role model” for the country’s efficient management during the Zika outbreak.

The repercussions of non-vigilance

Meanwhile in Malaysia, while the WHO recently commended the country’s efforts in fighting dengue, a construction company was fined RM45,000 after pleading guilty to breeding Aedes mosquito at a project site last month.

Simultaneously in Singapore,a new Zika cluster had been identified at Veerasamy Road in the Little India district, according to the National Environment Agency which is shortly after the announcement of the two Zika-free zones. This goes to show there is no room for leniency in control measures of this ongoing pandemic.

"NEA warns that there could still be asymptomatic or mild, undiagnosed cases in the area. As such, mosquito prevention and control remain key to preventing the transmission of the Zika virus. Let us all continue to do our part to fight Zika," added MP Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson), who also thanked residents and other stakeholders at the cluster areas for their efforts. MIMS

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