Culex mosquitoes do not transmit Zika virus: Study

New York: In the fight against Zika virus, researchers have recently found that the Culex group of mosquitoes are unlikely to transmit the deadly virus into humans.

Culex is a genus of mosquitoes, several species of which serve as vectors of one or more important diseases of birds, humans and other animals. 

The species are brown in colour and are responsible for transmitting diseases like West Nile virus and Japanese encephalitis. They live and thrive in the open. 

The findings are important for controlling Zika virus as well as preventing its spread, the study said.

"It's very important to know that Culex mosquitoes are not able to transmit Zika. It will enable people to target their control strategies so that they aren't wasting time and effort on a mosquito that isn't transmitting the virus," said lead author Dana Vanlandingham, Assistant Professor at the Kansas State University, in the US.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified Aedes aegypti, or yellow fever mosquito, and Aedes albopictus, or Asian tiger mosquito, as two species that transmit Zika virus. 

While Aedes aegypti are black in colour, Aedes albopictus are black and white. They live in and around houses in plant trays, spare containers or gutters.

"We need to know which mosquitoes to target and which mosquitoes not to target because mosquitoes live in different environments," Vanlandingham said.

Researchers studied Culex species mosquitoes from across the US, including Vero Beach in Florida, which is near Miami-Dade County where mosquitoes are spreading Zika virus.

The team found that Zika virus did not multiply and instead disappeared in the species.

"We can now check this particular group of mosquitoes off the list here in the US and focus efforts of control on the mosquitoes that we know can infect, like Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus," added Stephen Higgs, Director of the Biosecurity Research Institute. 

The researchers, in the journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, emphasised the importance of personal responsibility in stopping the spread of Zika virus. 

People can get rid of small pools of water where mosquitoes breed and should use mosquito repellent as personal protection.