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Study: Global spread of Zika linked to types of mosquitoes that transmit it

Image Courtesy: Google

Zika virus has been known since a longer duration of time, probably since 1940s. It was not being known yet by many of the population till 2015 when a massive outbreak took place which affected about 1.3 million people. The massive outbreak changed the mindset of the scientific community for this mosquito borne virus. Scientists began to realize that Zika virus is more dangerous than they have thought of.

According to the current study more number of cities than previously assumed could be soon grappled by the virus if the two species of the virus were being found to be equally effective carriers of the disease. This argument was being initiated by the Austin Disease Ecologist and his colleagues in the current edition of The Lancet Infectious Diseases from the University of Texas.

Global map of the predicted distribution of Aedes aegypti, one of the types of mosquitoes that spread Zika. (Image Courtesy: Google)
Global map of the predicted distribution of Aedes aegypti, one of the types of mosquitoes that spread Zika. (Image Courtesy: Google)

Non-Affected cities at higher risk

Even if a single more virus is being found being capable of spreading the disease, then according to the scientists cities including Miami and Houston are at a higher risk of the disease this summer. Sahotar Sarkar, which is a faculty member in the Department of Integrative Biology and Department of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin and his colleagues Lauren Gardner and Nan Chen from the University of New South Wales in Australia, mapped how the Zika virus is being likely to spread in the 100 cities worldwide. They have two scenarios for their study, air travel to and from affected areas in the Latin America and the prevalence of the two common mosquito species which are associated with the disease.

Both the mosquito are being detected to be possessing the virus of the Zika but only one is being found to be effective in spreading the disease. If the second species is also being capable of spreading the disease then more places in the United States, Europe and even the Asia then the previously thought would be experiencing the outbreaks. Sarkar further adding on the same says that the prevalence of the spread of the virus depends on how much is the second virus being effective in spreading the disease. If it is found to be true then the probable risk is far more than being predicted so far.

A California Department of Public Health map shows distribution of the species of mosquitoes that can spread virus. (Image Courtesy: Google)
A California Department of Public Health map shows distribution of the species of mosquitoes that can spread virus. (Image Courtesy: Google)

WHO estimation and the prevalent risks

According to Sarkar WHO has predicted the spread of the Zika virus by means of a single mosquito and very limited information. Under this scenario the existing models are overestimating the spread of the virus. For example in United States only Florida, Texas and Louisiana which is a home of the Aedes aegypti mosquito would probably be experiencing the spread of the Zika. Among the urban areas U.S., Miami and Houston would be at the greater risks. In general there is greater risk to the Florida than the Texas because more travel to the Latin America and Caribbean occurs there.

Under the second scenario the species named Aedes albopictus which is being known to be harbouring the disease but not being found to be good for transmitting it. Those species are also being capable of spreading the Zika and the WHO model is underestimating them. Parts of the world which were being believed to be at the lower risk earlier which includes Canada, Chile and many of the countries of Europe and Asia are also being experiencing the spread of the Zika virus.

Probable regions to experience spread of Zika virus this summer

Sarkar and Gardner’s findings came on the same day as that of the National center of Atmospheric Research which looked upon how the Zika virus would be spreading in the U.S cities this summer. It is being taking into account the ecology of the two mosquito species being located worldwide and also explicitly showing the difference in the risks levels of spreading of the virus. Sarkar and Gardner research is being pointing over the regions which needs to be taken appropriate measures for the control over the mosquito immediately.

Inspite of all these regions such as Miami, Orlando, Houstan, Tampa and New Orleans should be stepping up respective measures for sampling and monitoring the local population of the mosquitoes and even be prepared in implementing the drastic mosquito control measures. Travellers to the Latin America should also be taking precautionary measures.

Adding to the same she says, “The risk of additional Zika spread is further heightened, by the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics, which will be hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the epicenter of the Zika virus outbreak.”

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