These unlikely barflies are mosquitoes, salivating into small glass tubes. Researchers are collecting mosquito spit for an important reason: to find out whether these bugs are capable of transmitting Zika virus, which has become a growing health threat in recent years. Most cases in the Americas have been confined to South and Central America, but there are concerns that invading mosquitoes like these could spread Zika into the southern states of the US. To find out whether three different species of visiting mosquito can pass on Zika, the insects were allowed to feed on a mouse infected with the disease. The researchers then collected the mosquitoes’ saliva and analysed it for any traces of the virus. Although two species of invasive mosquito can’t transmit Zika, it looks like Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can, suggesting that local pest controllers should be specifically targeting these bugs to control the spread of the virus.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.