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Some California Mosquitoes Can Carry Zika Virus

aedes aegypti mosquito
Aedes aegypti mosquito, which may carry the Zika virus or dengue fever. Photo courtesy CDC.

FRIDAY, June 21, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Aedes mosquitoes in California can spread the Zika virus, researchers report.

Laboratory studies have shown that several species of Aedes mosquitoes can transmit Zika, but whether the same species in different regions could spread the virus was unclear. Zika is a relatively mild illness for most people, but it can cause devastating birth defects in children born to women who are infected during pregnancy.

In this new study, researchers infected California Aedes aegypti, Culex tarsalis and Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes with three different strains of Zika. One was from a 2015 Puerto Rico outbreak, one from a 2015 Brazil outbreak, and the third was from a 1966 Malaysian outbreak.

The mosquitoes fed on mice infected with the Zika strains and were later assessed to determine if they could transmit the virus.

The researchers did not detect Zika in the saliva of either Culex mosquito species 14 and 21 days after infection. However, 85 to 90 percent of the Aedes mosquitoes had evidence of Zika in their saliva, and rates were similar for all three strains.

The study was published June 21 in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

"Understanding the mosquito species that vector [Zika] is important for estimating regional outbreak potential and for informing local mosquito control strategies," said researchers Lark Coffey and Chris Barker, from the University of California, Davis.

"Vector control efforts targeting [Zika] should remain focused on reducing urban Aedes populations," they added in a journal news release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on Zika.

SOURCE: PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, news release, June 21, 2018
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