The Zika virus is known to be transmitted by the Aedes aegypti
mosquito; however, the virus has been identified in Aedes albopictus
mosquitoes in Africa. Now, researchers report that they have identified Zika in a small number of A. albopictus
mosquitoes in Brazil.
In March 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office in Europe published
a Zika risk assessment statement identifying the potential spread of Zika throughout the “European Region,” and concluded that the A. albopictus
, more widely known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito that is native to Southeast Asia, is potentially one of the two primary vectors of the Zika virus.
According to the statement, “Zika virus (in the family Flaviviridae, genus Flavivirus
) is transmitted by female Aedes
mosquitoes. The primary Aedes
species vector of Zika virus worldwide is A. aegypti
, which is responsible for the current outbreak in the Americas. A. albopictus
has been shown to be able to transmit Zika virus in Africa and in laboratory settings.”
Although both mosquitoes are confirmed to transmit Zika, the main difference between the two vectors’ capability of transmitting the virus lies in each mosquito’s “vector capacity,” which is “the efficiency with which the mosquito transmits a disease.” When comparing the two vectors’ capacity, the main differences include that A. albopictus
mosquitoes tend to bite outdoors and only feed once per life cycle, whereas A. aegypti
bites indoors and can feed several times per life cycle. The WHO statement recommended that areas where either one or both types of mosquitoes are known to be present have vector surveillance and control programs in place.
WHO identified a number of countries in the European region that have an A. albopictus
presence: Southeast Asia mosquito in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Romania, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and Vatican City.