Mosquitoes Deliver a Double Whammy of Diseases

mosquito

New studies have revealed some rather bad news about the mosquito’s ability to pass on diseases. It turns out they’re even better at it than we’d previously thought. So, you know how mosquitoes can carry more than one disease, as in they might be carriers of both the Zika virus and chikungunya? Well, it turns out they can give you both of those diseases with just one bite. How did we find discover this?

Well, it would seem some scientists were playing around with infecting lab mosquitoes with both the Zika virus and chikungunya, and the experiment worked! However, when they looked at the amount of mosquito saliva that is transferred in one bite they also found that those mosquitoes could now also infect a person with both diseases at the same time. The saliva contained enough of each virus that both could be transferred in one bite. Now doesn’t that just make your day? But wait! That’s not all!

It turns out that simply eradicating the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus may not actually end this epidemic. A new research study found that female mosquitoes can pass on the Zika virus to their offspring directly into their eggs. So, even if we kill all the adults carrying the virus, we’ll still have the next generation to deal with, and the next, and the next…you get the idea. Scientists believe that this is a defense mechanism that helps the virus to survive in an adverse environment. At the moment the pesticides being used to try and control the virus is able to kill off adults but not the eggs, meaning researchers are going to have to step up they’re game and come up with an insecticide that is able to kill off both the adults and their eggs. Mosquito eggs can also lie dormant for months when the weather is dry and then hatch once it rains. So, even if only a few eggs survived and carried the disease, they could start the epidemic all over again. We could have episodes of the disease popping up again after a dry spell and spreading on and off for years to come.

Do you think researchers will ever develop a way to completely eradicate the Zika virus?

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