UPDATE 2-Genes, bugs and radiation: WHO backs new weapons in Zika fight
* Zika-affected countries urged to step up insect control
* GM, irradiation, bacteria among anti-mosquito options (Updates with comment from independent mosquito control expert)
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Countries battling the Zika virus should consider new ways to curb disease-carrying mosquitoes, including testing the release of genetically modified insects and bacteria that stop their eggs hatching, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.
"Given the magnitude of the Zika crisis, WHO encourages affected countries and their partners to boost the use of both old and new approaches to mosquito control as the most immediate line of defence," it said.
The WHO also highlighted the potential of releasing sterile irradiated male mosquitoes, a technique that has been developed at the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Zika, which is now sweeping the Americas, is transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which the U.N. health body described as an "opportunistic and tenacious menace".
Many scientists believe Zika could be linked to microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, in newborns and a serious neurological disorder in adults called Guillain-Barre syndrome.
"If these presumed associations are confirmed, the human and social consequences for the over 30 countries with recently detected Zika outbreaks will be staggering," the WHO said. Continuación...