Researchers in Brazil announced Thursday the “presence of the Zika virus” in Culex mosquitoes (the common house mosquito) in the eastern city of Recife. These findings were released with a word of caution, saying “the obtained data will require additional studies in order to assess the potential participation of Culex in the spread of Zika and its role in the epidemic.”
Researchers collected 500 mosquitoes and found the virus in three pools of mosquitoes. Each pool contains between one and ten mosquitoes. The presence of the virus in these mosquitoes does not mean they can transmit the virus.
Before this study was completed by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), Zika was thought to solely by carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Culex mosquitoes are “twenty times greater than the population of Aedes Aegypti” in the Recife metropolitan area, according to the study.
Fiocruz is a public institution attached to the Brazilian Ministry of Health. It is one of Brazil’s oldest and most respected health care institutions that has been at the forefront of the fight against Zika.
Tom Skinner, U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Senior Press Officer told CNN Thursday in response to the study’s findings, “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.”
There are many different types of Culex mosquitoes. This study found the virus in Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes. A U.S. study published earlier this week in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, found a different type of Culex mosquito was not capable to transmitting the Zika virus in a lab setting.
They concluded that this type of mosquito is unlikely to transmit the virus in the U.S. New knowledge about the Zika virus is being discovered on a daily basis but this research seems in line with what’s known, which is that the main vector is the Aedes mosquito.
The virus has been spreading across the Americas since last year. The World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern in February. Since then, researchers have found the virus can cause a devastating birth defect, called microcephaly, in babies born to mother’s who were infected with the virus during pregnancy.