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Zika Virus Identified in Asian Tiger Mosquitoes in Brazil

APR 18, 2017 | SARAH ANWAR

Aedes albopictus presence in the US
 
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a map indicating the presence of A. albopictus (and not Zika virus) in the United States, as per 2016 data. The vector has been identified in states primarily located in the southwestern, central, and eastern regions of the country.
 
Now, a team of researchers from several institutions are reporting in the Journal of Medical Entomology (JME) that Zika virus RNA has been isolated in A. albopictus mosquitoes in Camaçari, Bahia, Brazil. Of the 20 female and 19 male adult A. albopictus mosquitoes collected for the study, Zika RNA was identified in 3 female and 2 male mosquitoes. Although the number of Zika-infected mosquitoes was found to be small, more mosquitoes may be infected and are yet to be identified. For example, in a study recently published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers from New York found that vertical transmission of the Zika virus in A. albopictus mosquitoes was possible in the laboratory. This means that a Zika-infected female A. albopictus mosquito can pass infection on to its larvae; since a single female mosquito typically lays hundreds of eggs, the three female Zika-infected mosquitoes identified in Brazil may have infected hundreds of larvae.
 
“Our results mean that Aedes albopictus may have a role in Zika virus transmission and should be of concern to public health. This mosquito is found worldwide, has a wide range of hosts and has adapted to colder climates. The role of this mosquito in Zika virus transmission needs to be assessed,” stated one of the JME study authors, Chelsea Smartt, PhD, associate professor at the Florida medical Entomology Laboratory at the University of Florida, in a press release.
 
There have been approximately 110,000 cases of Zika virus in Bahia since the beginning of the Zika virus outbreak in the South American country.
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