Florida tests bacteria-infected mosquitoes to kill off bugs

Asian tiger mosquito

Asian tiger mosquito

The U.S. health agency made this call in a commentary published by the U.S. JAMA Neurology in response to two recent studies in Brazil, which show that seizures and epilepsy are being reported in some infants with congenital Zika virus infection.

Federal health officials writing in a medical journal on Monday urged doctors to be on the lookout for Zika-related seizures and epilepsy among infants born to mothers infected with the virus while pregnant. All mosquitoes gathered from the virus' risk zones need to be tested for Zika RNA before being brought back to the lab, she emphasizes.

The virus, which can cause serious neurological birth defects, is mainly spread through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, which isn't present in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo or Monterey counties.

The researchers discovered that Zika RNA had jumped to Aedes albopictus mosquitoes after studying the species in Camacari, Brazil. Without live Zika virus in the offspring, the presence of Zika RNA suggests that either "the female parent was not itself infected with live Zika virus or it was not able to transfer live Zika virus to her eggs", Smartt commented. The primary Aedes species vector of Zika virus worldwide is A. aegypti, which is responsible for the current outbreak in the Americas.

Smartt said "extensive research still needs to be done" to determine whether this type of mosquito can transmit Zika.

The Keys trial is MosquitoMate's second US test with Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, after a similar trial in Clovis, California, last year. The range of Aedes albopictus expands into the Midwest. To try to avoid mosquito bites, scientists and public health professionals urge people to stay indoors or wear long-sleeve shirts and trousers if they're outdoors, especially during the day, when mosquitoes that might transmit the Zika virus are more likely to bite.

Currently, there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Mosquitoes are an enormous health concern, as they've been connected to a variety of illnesses - most notably West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life.

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