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Scientists wrestle with possibility of second Zika-spreading mosquito

It’s not yet clear whether Asian tiger mosquitoes will be important virus carriers and worsen outbreak

By
4:30pm, May 16, 2016
Aedes mosquitoes

DOUBLE TROUBLE OR NOT  Researchers don’t yet know whether the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus, right) will join the yellow fever mosquito (Ae. aegypti, left) as a notable spreader of Zika virus in the current outbreak. A two-mosquito scenario would expose more people.

Sure, mosquitoes spread Zika virus. Scientists have already identified the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) as a major spreader in the Americas of Zika and its risk of birth defects and possible paralysis. But Ae. aegypti may not be the only culprit. Recent evidence raises concerns that a relative, the Asian tiger mosquito (Ae. albopictus), might also play a role.

A Mexican lab, for instance, recently detected Zika virus for the first time in an Ae. albopictus collected in the Americas, the World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization announced in April. Just finding the virus in a mosquito doesn’t prove the species will spread the disease in a major way in the Americas, says Phil Lounibos of the University of Florida’s medical entomology lab in Vero Beach. But

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