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THE ZIKA VIRUS MOSQUITO GENOME MAP: POTENTIALLY IMPROVED ZIKA PREVENTION & TREATMENT ON THE HORIZON

Author: Mosquito Squad of Leominster

Last year we shared how scientists were mapping the genome sequence of the deer tick to learn more about how it can transmit but not be affected by tick-borne diseases such as Lyme, Babesiosis and more. The information learned could prove invaluable in designing specifically targeted pesticides or even new medicines or vaccines to combat against human tick-borne illness.

Scientists are at it again with the Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes. The attempt was started almost ten years ago in mapping the Aedes mosquito’s genome but hit some road bumps along the way. With the fast spread of Zika Virus in 2015 and 2016, the project became more vital, and have resulted in new breakthroughs.

A MOSQUITO GENOME MAPPING BREAKTHROUGH

Nature.com reports that “a new technique for stitching together the genome sequences” have allowed scientists to assemble the genome of the Aedes aegypti mosquito where it previously was left in pieces. The breakthrough allows for scientists to know the location of individual genes relative to each other. The information garnered will result in new questions for scientists to answer in regards to how “genes combine to influence traits.”

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is known as a transmitter of dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika virus, and yellow fever. They are especially dangerous because they feed during the day, making them harder to avoid. With more genetic information known, researchers are closer to finding helpful information for formulating new defenses and potential medicines to help those in areas affected by Aedes aegypti and the diseases they carry.

While the Aedes aegypti is not a commonly found mosquito in Central Massachusetts, the CDC’s latest maps indicate they could be as far north as southern Connecticut. Their suspected counterpart, the Aedes Albopictus mosquito, has been found here, and further north, though still not a common species.

WEST NILE VIRUS

West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are the bigger threats here at home, and interestingly enough, West Nile is transmitted by the Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito, mentioned above, whose genome was also assembled.

This breakthrough is just the tip of the iceberg for the scientists working on the mosquito genome projects. A great deal of work will need to be done before valuable information can be garnered and then utilized for prevention and treatment of mosquito-borne diseases. In the meantime, call Mosquito Squad of Leominster to eliminate 85-90% of mosquitoes from your property.