Three viruses, one mosquito

Zika virus persists



In order to see if mosquitoes could carry more than one of the viruses simultaneously, a team at Colorado State University infects Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with both Zika and chikunguny. “Their saliva is clearly testing positive for both, which could mean that people bitten by this type of mosquito could be infected by both viruses at once,” researcher Claudia Ruckert said in a statement. The frightening implications could mean that a whole new approach must be taken in order to combat these viruses.

By Harsimran Makkad, Sycamore High School

The Zika virus may not be the only virus causing infections in South America, according to two new studies released on November 14.

Now, dengue and chikungunya may also be transmitted alongside Zika.

“Mosquitoes can be infected with Zika and chikungunya at the same time and could, in theory, infect people with both viruses in a single bite,” one research team found, according to NBC News.

Furthermore, a second team found unusual symptoms in Brazilians when Zika, chikungunya, and dengue swept through the area, including cases of opsoclonus-myoclonue ataxia syndrome, commonly known as dancing eyes-dancing feet syndrome because of the jerky movements it causes.

In fact, people were often infected with multiple viruses at the same time.

“Our analysis shows that each of these viruses may have the potential to cause a range of neurological complications, some very severe,” said Dr. Isadora Siqueira, an infectious disease physician and researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Salvador to NBC News.

“What’s very difficult to determine is whether having a co-infection with two of these viruses increases the risk of neurological problems.”

The study is still observing one patient who was infected with both chikungunya and dengue.

Chinkungunya is a viral disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes; it causes racking pain, according to the World Health Organization.

Also a mosquito-born disease, dengue is caused by any of four related dengue viruses; it can cause deadly hemorrhagic fever, that is any infectious disease that interferes with the blood’s ability to clot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But, Zika, chikungunya, and dengue are all spread by the same species of mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) and cause similar symptoms: fever, severe joint pain, and headaches. They are also linked to rare neurological side effects.

The viruses are not easy to distinguish; only recently available tests allow doctors to diagnose which virus a patient has.

“It’s so scary how it’s not just Zika out there but all these other viral infections,” said Melinda Looney-Ho, 11.

Read the original story here.