Zika virus, also known as ZIKV, is transmitted by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti. People catch Zika virus by being bitten by an infected Aedes mosquito. The Aedes mosquito also spreads dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the primary carrier of Zika virus. Aedes albopictus is a suspected second carrier. According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Aedes mosquitoes are found in all countries in the Americas except Canada and continental Chile, and the virus will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito breeds in standing water. The mosquitoes require just a cap full of water to bred. Experts are asking people to get rid of standing water, where mosquitoes are likely to bred such as flower pots, bottles and containers.
Only female mosquitoes bite; they are intermittent feeders and prefer to bite more than one person. Once the female mosquito is fully fed, it needs to rest 3 days before it lays eggs. The eggs can survive up to 1 year without water. Once water is available, and small quantities of standing water are sufficient, the eggs develop into larvae and then adult mosquitoes. Mosquitoes get infected from people with the virus.
Aedes mosquito surival
There are 2 types of Aedes mosquito capable of transmitting the Zika virus. In most cases, Zika spreads through the Aedes aegypti mosquito in tropical and subtropical regions. The Aedes aegypti mosquito does not survive in cooler climate temperatures. The Aedes albopictus mosquito can also transmit the virus. This mosquito can hibernate and survive cooler temperature regions.
Aedes mosquito travel
The Aedes mosquito is a weak flyer; it cannot fly more than 400 meters. But it may inadvertently be transported by humans from one place to another (e.g. in the back of the car, plants). If it can survive the temperature climate of the destination, it may theoretically be capable of reproducing itself there and introduce Zika virus to new areas.
Aedes aegypti is the primary mosquito which is responsible for spreading the Zika virus. For a long time, it was known as the "Yellow Fever" mosquito as it is the primary vector for the virus that causes the Yellow Fever.
Aedes aegypti is one of the 3,500 species of mosquitoes and is probably the most feared by humans. The mosquito can spread yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya and now Zika. According to an environmental historian, the Aedes aeypti mosquito has killed more humans than any other animal. Only the female Aedes aegypti bites humans. Fearing the damage that this variant of mosquito can cause, humans in the past had eradicated it for a couple of decades. The Pan American Health Organization eradicated the mosquitoes between 1940 and 1960s in 18 Latin American countries.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is dark and small and have a length of 4-7 mm. The mosquitoes have white-banded legs and a silvery lyre-shaped pattern on its thorax. They prefer to live in close proximity with humans, especially urban areas, in the tropics and sub-tropics. The mosquitoes live in inside and outside and prefers shades. The stomach of Aedes aegypti is a fertile place for the Zika virus to reproduce. They prefer to lays eggs in manmade containers of standing water such as empty pots, buckets and pet dishes.
The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes bites humans, sometimes multiple times, and usually in daytime. They have a lifespan of 2-4 weeks. A female mosquito can produce up to five batches of eggs. These type of mosquitoes travels more than a third of a mile from where it hatches. They spread dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever and West Nile viruses.
Genetically Modified Mosquitoes
Genetically modified mosquitoes could help in eradicating the Aedes aegypti mosquito that is spreading the Zika virus.
On 16 February 2016, the World Health Organization said that the genetically modified mosquitoes could prove necessary to eradicate the Aedes aegypti mosquito. "Given the magnitude of the Zika crisis, WHO encourages affected countries and their partners to boost the use of both old and new approaches to mosquito control as the most immediate line of defence." The GM mosquitoes interbreed with wild mosquitoes to produce unviable offspring and in turn will cause populations to crash.