Zika Found in Common House Mosquitoes in Brazil

Culex mosquito
Science & Medicine

It seems the Zika virus is showing no signs of slowing in Brazil, where researchers have found that the virus is present even in many house mosquitoes. These mosquitoes, known as Culex, are the most common and have been spotted in the city of Recife. While it has been confirmed that Culex are carrying the potentially deadly virus, scientists say that more studies need to be done in order to determine if the Culex can indeed spread the virus. [1]

Researchers collected 5,000 common mosquitoes in Recife where people had contracted the Zika virus. They found that 86 percent of them were of the Culex variety.

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that they cannot definitively warn the public against the mosquitoes, this could be incredibly useful, and scary. Culex mosquitoes have a population that is 20 times great than the population of Aedes aegypti, in the Recife area. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are the breed currently known to harbor and spread the Zika virus. [1]

A similar study in the United States found that the Culex pipien mosquito, which is commonly found in the United States, is not actually capable of spreading Zika. This study was published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases

Tom Skinner of the Centers for Disease Control stated:

“the study would need to be replicated to have a better understanding of possible implications. Body of scientific evidence to date clearly points to Aedes being the primary vector implicated in Zika outbreaks.” [1]

Oswaldo Cruz Foundation researcher Constancia Ayres, said:

“It can transmit Zika. What we need to know now is which species is the most important — if Culex is the primary vector or the secondary vector. We need to do more research.” [2]

While some researchers seem more certain than others that the Culex is involved in the transmission of Zika, some think that this does not mean that the Culex mosquitoes are causing that much harm. One researcher pointed out that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are also found in large quantities in Recife, and therefore may be the culprits after all.

Sources:

[1] CNN

[2] The Washington Post