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article imageCanada testing Zika virus on native mosquitoes

By Karen Graham     Feb 19, 2016 in Science
Toronto - Canadian insect scientists are now growing the Zika virus in a special containment laboratory at Brock University. They want to find out if any of Canada's dozen species of native mosquitoes could be infected with the deadly virus.
Entomologist Fiona Hunter of Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario received a sample of the Zika virus from the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg a few days ago, according to CTV News Canada.
Brock University is the only academic institution in Canada, besides the National Microbiology lab that has a CL3 Containment lab that includes an insectary. Hunter's team is will be testing the virus, originally from Thailand, on a dozen native mosquitoes.
The purpose of the studies, according to CBC Canada, is to see if the Zika virus could infect and be carried by native mosquitoes. The Aedes aegypti mosquito that is so troublesome in Latin America, not only carries the Zika virus, but also carries Dengue, Chikungunya fever, and other viruses. The A. aegypti mosquito can't survive Canada's cold winters.
Concern over the Asian Tiger Mosquito
The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, is a vector for the Zika virus, and it is one mosquito that will get priority testing, says Hunter. According to University of Manitoba entomologist Kateryn Rochon, the Asian tiger mosquito is thought to be adapting to temperate climates, so it could become a vector for the Zika virus.
Rochon says that one of the lessons learned from the West Nile Virus, that still causes hundreds of cases every year in Canada, is to check to see if any native species of mosquitoes can become vectors. This is what is being done in the special laboratory.
In November 2015, Digital Journal reported the disease-carrying Asian Bush mosquito, Aedes japonicus, a native to Asia, had been found in British Columbia, the first such discovery in Western Canada.
More about Zika virus, canadian laboratory, native mosquitoes, dozen native specias, asian tiger mosquito
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