The mosquito that transmits the Zika virus has been found in the South American country for the first time in six decades, Chile’s health ministry said.
The presence of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito in Chilean continental areas was reported on Monday (April 18).
U.S. health officials recently said there’s no longer any doubt Zika can cause babies to be born with abnormally small heads and other severe brain defects.
Earlier, Chilean officials had declared that they had registered the first locally acquired case of the Zika virus, which was sexually transmitted within Chile.
Aedes Aegypti has also been detected in the Easter Island territory in the Pacific more than 3,500 kilometres from Chile’s mainland.
Chile was, with Canada, one of just two states in the Americas said to be free of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the Zika virus.
But health minister Carmen Castillo said yesterday scientists had identified a specimen of the mosquito in mainland Chile for the first time since the 1960s.
“It is an Aedes aegypti, which means that we have to take more precautions,” she said.
The Chilean mainland is largely protected from mosquitoes by mountains and deserts.
The specimen was found in the northern city of Arica, Castillo said.
About Zika Virus:
- Zika virus is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus.
- It is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus.
- Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947.
- Zika virus is related to dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses.
- The infection, known as Zika fever, often causes no or only mild symptoms, similar to a mild form of dengue fever
- Zika has been linked to cases of microcephaly in babies born to infected mothers. Babies with microcephaly have unusually small heads and damaged brains.
- Zika has also been linked to rare neurological diseases in adults.