Zika Virus Detected in ‘More Aggressive’ Mosquito Species

By Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
April 29, 2016 Updated: April 29, 2016

The Zika virus has been detected in the Aedes albopictus mosquito species. Known as the “Asian tiger,” A. albopictus are more prevalent in the United States than Aedes aegypti.

A. aegypti have been the primary vector for the spread of the virus in South America, primarily Brazil, which has seen 1,000 infants born with microcephaly due to the current Zika outbreak.

The detection of Zika in Aedes albopictus increases the number of American states the could be affected by the virus this upcoming summer. 

The 2016 estimated ranges of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus in the United States. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Researchers in Mexico made the discovery in colonies of A. albopictus that were collected in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi.  

Reported by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the find vastly increases the number of people that are potentially at risk of contracting Zika virus. 

According to The Washington Post, Janet McAllister, an entomologist at the CDC, lamented the lack of planning by certain states’ officials. 

“There are officials who have been saying we don’t have aedes aegypti, so we don’t need to be worried or have a plan,” said McAllister.

McAllister continued: “What CDC is saying is: You need a plan in place because albopictus could transmit Zika in your area, and you need to take it seriously.”

McAllister noted that A. albopictus is “a more aggressive biter.”

“Once it starts taking a blood meal, it will stay on that person until it’s completely full,” she said.

Contrastingly, A. aegypti are more effective at spreading disease because they will jump from person to person till they are full

“It won’t take a complete blood meal if people are actively moving around, so that’s what makes aegypti a super-spreader,” McAllister said. “Whereas the albopictus tends to stay put.”

A. aegypti are the main species of mosquito that spread Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and similar viruses, according to the CDC, primarily because they prefer to feed on people.

The Asian tiger mosquito is feed on both animals and humans, they are less likely to spread these viruses. Yet they are still capable of doing so.

Perhaps more importantly, A. albopictus can live in broader temperature ranges than the A. aegypti

You can learn more about the differences between the mosquito species here

Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca