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Zika is found in common Culex mosquitos, signaling a potentially larger risk

Scientists say more studies are needed to determine if there’s a new way to spread Zika.
Brazilian researchers said that they have found Zika in Culex mosquitoes in the northeastern city of Recife in what could prove to be an important discovery. But they cautioned that more study was needed.
Until now, Zika was believed to be carried mainly by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is much less numerous, lives in clean water and is more likely to bite during the day. Aedes aegypti thrives in tropical and subtropical climates — it is found in Southern U.S. states such as Florida, but is absent in large parts of the United States. The virus is also carried by the Aedes albopictus mosquito, which lives in more rural environments.
Culex mosquitoes are much more widespread. They breed in dirty water and bite at night. Public health officials have feared that Culex mosquitoes could be involved in Zika transmission, something that would necessitate new strategies to combat the disease — which is blamed for an outbreak of the birth defect microcephaly. Brazil has confirmed around 1,700 cases of the birth defect, which causes babies to be born with unusually small heads and can cause cognitive and learning difficulties.
“It means that we have a second species of vector involved in transmission. And with this vector having totally different habits from Aedes aegypti, we will have to create new strategies to combat Culex
Researchers from the foundation collected 5,000 mosquitoes from houses in Recife where suspected Zika transmission had taken place. They found 86 percent of these mosquitoes were Culex.
The researchers analyzed 456 female Culex mosquitoes, which they divided into 80 “pools” or sample groups of between one and 10 mosquitoes each. They found Zika-infected insects in three of these pools.
the research proved that Culex can transmit Zika and that it could have played a role in the rapid spread of the disease in Brazil.
“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,” researchers said.
a study at the institution in Rio by researcher Ricardo Lourenço-de-Oliveira had so far failed to find Zika in around 750 Culex mosquitoes.

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