Mosquitoes are annoying and their bite will give you an itchy pink or reddish skin bumps. They can also cause serious public health issue like the mosquito-borne Zika outbreak that spread all over the world last year. Not only that according to a recent study published in the Nature Communications journal reports that mosquitoes might be even more adept at spreading disease than previously thought. The research was aiming to find out if the infamous Aedes aegypti mosquito may be able to spread multiple diseases at once. Aedes aegypti mosquito, also called the cockroach of mosquitoes, is known to be among the primary way diseases like chikungunya, dengue and Zika virus spread.
Researchers from Colorado State University exposed hundreds of mosquitoes to either chikungunya, Zika or dengue and different combinations of the three. They also exposed 48 mosquitoes to the three viruses namely chikungunya, Zika and dengue so that they can analyze if one or all three of the diseases could appear in the saliva, which could then potentially infect a person.
The researchers examined the saliva, gut and legs of the insects for signs of viral infection. They found that 92% of the mosquitoes tested positive for all three viruses. Of the 48 just one remained uninfected.
They found that 6 saliva samples from the mosquito tested positive for all three viruses 14 days after the insects were exposed. Another two saliva samples tested positive 21 days after exposure.
Even if not all the insects had the virus in the saliva, the researchers said that the virus' presence in the saliva happens only after the infection has traveled through the body. As a result, the other mosquitoes that tested positive may still have been able to transmit the disease in the future even if the virus was not found in the saliva.
"Based on what I know as a virologist, epidemiologist and entomologist, I thought that the viruses would either compete or enhance each other in some way," Greg Ebel, director of the Arthropod-borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory and co-author of the study, said in a statement today. "On the one hand, all of these viruses have mechanisms to suppress mosquito immunity, which could lead to synergy. On the other hand, they all likely require similar resources within infected cells, which could lead to competition."
But Ebel said, "we didn't see much evidence of either one of these things in mosquitoes that were infected in the lab by multiple viruses."
According to CDC the only way to protect yourself and your children from mosquito-born illness is to prevent the bite by using insect repellent. The CDC recommends using EPA-registered insect repellents that include at least 20% DEET. Though products with higher DEET concentration does provide longer protection, this peaks around 50% DEET.
Summit 20-Pack Mosquito Dunk - Kills Mosquito Larvae Before They're Old Enough To Bite $19.48
Flowtron BK-15D Electronic Insect Killer, 1/2 Acre Coverage $29.98
Burgess 1443 Propane Insect Fogger for Fast and Effective Mosquito Control in Your Yard $57.53
Repel 100 Insect Repellent, 4 oz. Pump Spray $7.97
Coleman 100 Max DEET Insect Repellent Mosquito & Tick Spray Pump $11.76
Repel Sportsmen Max Formula 4 oz Insect Repellent Lotion 40% DEET HG-94079 $4.47
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent $4.97
Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin $7.99
All Natural Mosquito Repellent Bracelet (3 pack) $12.97