How a medication for dogs and cats could protect humans from Zika, malaria

Medications meant to protect pets from fleas and tics may be able to help humans fight Zika and malaria, according to a study published Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Researchers tested fluralaner and afoxolaner, oral insecticidal drugs approved for companion animals, on diseased mosquitoes and sand fleas. They found the drugs effectively killed insects that consumed the compounds through human blood samples.

Using computer projected modeling, researchers estimated giving the drugs to one-third of the people living in areas prone to Zika outbreaks would prevent up to 97 percent of infections, according to Time.

The drugs kill pests by compromising the insects' nervous system. Researchers suggest the drugs could cause a disease-spreading bug to die after biting a medicated individual, which would significantly hinder disease transmission.

More studies are needed to prove the safety and effectiveness of the isoxazolyl medicine in humans, but the medication already used for animals may shave around two to three years off the drug development and trial process.

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