30 September 2016

SBMA fights Zika, dengue with mosquitofish - BFAR

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority recently asked for 10,000 fingerlings of mosquitofish from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAD) to get rid of mosquitoes that may carry dengue and the Zika virus.

The SBMA will use mosquitofish to eliminate disease-carrying mosquitoes, said Westly Rosario, chief of BFAR National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center in a report from the Philippine Star.

"It is important to give them because some shipping containers may have transported mosquitoes that carry diseases," Rosario said.

Rosario said mosquitofish, locally known as itar or kataba, was earlier used to fight malaria in the country.

The fish eat mosquito larvae.

“We just bring back the importance of this species to address the spread of diseases like dengue or Zika virus,” he said.

Rosario said mosquitofish also has high protein level that is used as food for seabass fingerlings.

He said mosquitofish can survive in low oxygen and has a survival rate of 100 percent.

Mosquitofish is also being bred and distributed in Central America by Virginia-based non-profit Operation Blessing hoping to halt the spread of the Zika virus.

Bill Horan, president of Operation Blessing, said the fish provide a uniquely effective option for combating diseases known to be carried by the mosquitoes.

The fish eat mosquitoes' larva before the insects mature and carry the disease which has been linked to an epidemic of birth defects in Brazil and spread throughout Latin America. (SNL)

Female (top) and male (below) mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis). The name "mosquitofish" was given because the diet of this fish sometimes consists of large numbers of mosquito larvae, relative to body size. (Wikipedia.org)