The Zika flavivirus that broke out as an epidemic in Brazil in 2015 and spread to 70 countries in the world, also made an appearance in India in late May this year. With no treatment and/or vaccine available for the mosquito-borne disease, Zika is as strong as ever and the people just as vulnerable to its attack. Till now, it was believed that the sole culprit of transmitting the virus was the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that is also responsible for spreading dengue and chikungunya. However, a disturbing discovery made by Brazilian scientists could increase the spread of Zika virus by a huge margin. According to reports, not just the Aedes mosquito, but the common Culex mosquito is able to transmit the harmful Zika virus too. Scientists at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in the Pernambuco state revealed that the virus can reach the insect’s salivary gland, “which is believed to indicate that Culex mosquitoes may be one of the vectors of the Zika virus”, reports Xinhua news agency. The team’s findings were published on Wednesday by the Nature group. Fiocruz said it will now analyse the physiological and behavioural characteristics of the Culex in its natural environment “to understand the role and the importance of this species in the transmission of the Zika virus”. While the virus is not fatal to humans, it has been linked to serious birth defects in infants born to women who were exposed to the mosquito-borne disease, mainly through bites. Zika can lead to infants with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, and to a sometimes debilitating condition known as Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults who have been bitten.

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