Brazilian researchers discover Zika virus in common mosquito ahead of Olympics

With just 15 days remaining for Rio Olympics, Brazilian researchers on Thursday announced that they have found signs of Zika virus in a common mosquito which belongs to a different species from the insect known to be the primary means of transmission.

The researchers, however, pointed out that further tests will be required to determine whether the species, known as Culex quinquefasciatus, is in fact responsible for transmitting the virus to humans.

An edes aegypti mosquito. Reuters

An edes aegypti mosquito. Reuters

Zika virus was found in Culex quinquefasciatus in the northeastern city of Recife but this species is 20 times more common there than Aedes aegypti, which up till now was being identified as the main vector.

The scientists said in a statement that Zika traces were found using methods which identify ribonucleic acid from the virus. The findings, they said confirmed the species as a potential vector of the virus.

The virus has been spreading across the two American continents since last year. The World Health Organization had declared a public health emergency of international concern in February.

The virus can cause a devastating birth defect, called microcephaly. Babies born to mother's who were infected with the virus during pregnancy develop this deficiency.

Brazil’s Ministry of Health. however, is convinced that aegypti is the most important vector and the public-health measures will remain the same irrespective of species.

Brazil’s Ministry of Health had reported that 1,709 cases of Zika were detected with 102 deaths and stillbirths caused by the virus. However rates of Zika infection has been on the decline in the past three months, with the onset of the Brazilian winter.

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Updated Date: Jul 22, 2016 20:06:56 IST