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May 30, 2016: Aedes Aegypti – Guilty

“The usual suspect has been caught, not red-handed but red-bellied. Since the beginning of the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil, health authorities and researchers have strongly suspected that the mosquito Aedes aegypti, known for spreading several deadly viruses, was also guilty of spreading Zika from one person to another. But direct evidence had been hard to find. Now, researchers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, report that they have found the Zika virus in wild-caught A. aegypti. The researchers did not find the virus in other mosquito species they captured in neighborhoods where Zika was spreading, which strengthens the case that A. aegypti is the main vector driving the outbreak.” reports Gretchen Vogel.

“Despite the hundreds of thousands of human cases, it’s not easy to find infected mosquitoes, explains Oliver Brady, an entomologist at the University of Oxford. ‘Finding the virus in a mosquito is extremely difficult,’ he says. ‘They infect people and die before anyone shows up at the hospital’ with disease symptoms.

“The new findings do not rule out other mosquito species as possible vectors, but they do provide some reassurance that Zika is likely following the familiar patters seen in dengue and chikungunya outbreaks, says Philip McCall, an entomologist at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom. That suggests that large outbreaks are less likely outside the range of A. aegypti. If the virus were easily spread by Culex species or A. albopictus, the regions threatened by serious outbreaks would be much larger.”

Source: Science Magazine

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