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Just Spraying Adult Mosquitoes Won't Curb Zika: Study

MONDAY, Aug. 29, 2016 -- Female mosquitoes can transmit the Zika virus to their eggs and offspring, and this may make it harder to contain outbreaks, a new lab study suggests.

Control programs that focus only on adult mosquitoes may not halt Zika's spread, the researchers warned.

The researchers injected laboratory-grown Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which spread the virus, with Zika and tracked its spread to their offspring.

"The implications for viral control are clear," said study co-author Dr. Robert Tesh, of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

"Spraying affects adults, but it does not usually kill the immature forms -- the eggs and larvae," said Tesh. As a result, "spraying will reduce transmission, but it may not eliminate the virus."

Based on their findings, the study authors say larvicide should become an integral part of efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

"Since Zika virus has emerged as a global health emergency, most research has focused on the virus and its effects on humans. There is far less research on the virus in its mosquito host," Tesh said.

"But if you want to control Zika, you also have to know about the behavior of this virus in mosquitoes," he added.

Zika virus can cause severe brain damage in newborns whose mothers were infected during pregnancy. While mosquito bites are the main source of transmission, experts say the virus can also be spread sexually.

The study was published online Aug. 29 in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

More information

See Zika Virus: Important Questions Answered for more information.

For more about the Zika virus, head to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This Q & A will tell you what you need to know about Zika.

To see the CDC list of sites where Zika virus is active and may pose a threat to pregnant women, click here.

Posted: August 2016


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