Common Mosquito Pesticide Exacerbates Health Issues Associated with Zika Virus

September 28, 2021 | A widely used mosquito pesticide may exacerbate the effect of the Zika virus on fetal brain development, according to research published by an international team of scientists in Environmental Pollution. Pyriproxyfen, an insect growth regulator often used as a mosquito larvicide, is registered for use in hundreds of commonly used pesticide products. Scientists have discovered that the pesticide’s mode of action has the potential to worsen the public health mosquito diseases the chemical aims to control. The research reinforces the extent of unknowns associated with synthetic pesticide exposure, underscoring the need for a focus on nontoxic and ecological mosquito management. Scientists base their research on reports that in Brazil, during the 2015 Zika epidemic, certain areas of the country experienced higher rates of microcephaly. Microcephaly is a rare condition that causes a pregnant woman’s fetus to develop severe cranial deformities, alongside a range of other symptoms that include vision problems, hearing loss, feeding issues, developmental delays and seizures. While the study does not provide support for the chemical increasing viral infection rates, scientists did find that exposure could exacerbate an existing infection, resulting in more harmful health impacts when exposed to both pyriproxyfen and Zika together. [Vancamp, Pieter et al. The pyriproxyfen metabolite, 4’–OH–PPF, disrupts thyroid hormone signaling in neural stem cells, modifying neuro- developmental genes affected by ZIKA virus infection. Environmental Pollution, 285: 117654, 2021.]