The Zika virus is creating the same sort of fear that the Ebola virus created in 2014 and 2015. The result of being infected with the Ebola virus usually meant certain death, but the Zika virus is different. Researchers now believe that the Zika virus may play a role in microcephaly in newborn infants. The fact that the Zika virus could be contributing to birth defects and obvious head malformation has the world on notice. One bite from the Aedes aegypti mosquito and pregnant women and the fetus are in serious danger.
Dr. Cortes, the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s top medical expert, has been answering question about the Zika virus since the first case was reported in Northeastern Brazil in April 2015. Cortes shares information about Zika and microcephaly on his official website. Dr. Cortes also has a great deal of information about the Aedes aegypti mosquito on his website and on his LinkedIn page.
According to Dr. Cortes, only the female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes bite humans. The small villains need blood in order to lay eggs. The mosquitoes somehow absorb the virus in the blood. The virus then travels from the mosquitoes gut and through their circulatory system. It enters their salivary glands and then the virus is ready to be transmitted to their next human victim. The Aedes aegypti mosquito’s saliva has a protein that keeps human blood from clotting. The mosquitoes first bite injects saliva, so the human blood doesn’t clog the mosquito’s main weapon which is its straw-like proboscis.
The scary fact about Aedes aegypti mosquitoes is they can breed in clean water and they don’t need much of it to lay eggs. The aggressive Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for spreading the virus in Central and South America, but that species is only found in the state of Florida as well as other states along the gulf coast. But in spring and summer, the species has been found in Chicago and along the East coast of the U.S., according to Dr. Cortes.
Another mosquito, the Aedes albopictus, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, also carries the Zika virus, but researchers aren’t sure how effective that species is when ti comes to transmitting Zika, The Aedes albopictus makes its home in cities like New York and Chicago. Dr. Cortes recently said there is evidence that the Zika virus can be spread during sexual intercourse since the virus stays in the semen of infected men, but there are only a few confirmed cases so far.