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Scientists Fear Zika Virus Could be Spread by Common Mosquito

January 28, 2016
Public Health

Brazilian scientists are carrying out tests to ascertain whether the Zika virus has already spread to the common mosquito, greatly increasing its chances of rapid transmission. Up until now, it has been thought that the virus was spread solely by the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito but researchers are now looking closely at the common culex species that is already responsible for spreading a number of viruses closely related to Zika.

Constancia Ayres, the research coordinator of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation where the work is being carried out said; “This may be the reason for the virus replicating faster. The interaction of the mosquito with the virus may explain the epidemiological profile of disease transmission.” The results of tests are expected within the next three weeks.

Zika has already spread to 21 countries and territories in the Caribbean and North and South America. In Brazil, where the current outbreak originated, there had been 3,893 cases up until last week, with new cases developing at a rate of 800 a month. There have so far been five cases confirmed in the UK all among people who have travelled to South America. Initial symptoms of the virus which is related to dengue and chikungunya include, mild fever, conjunctivitis and headache but it can also produce microcephaly, a malformation of the brain in unborn babies.

Public Health England have confirmed that whilst the virus does not spread directly from person to person, a small number of cases have occurred through sexual transmission or from mother to foetus via the placenta.