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Canada test own mosquitos for possible Ziko

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    Posted: February 21 2016 at 2:42am

February 19, 2016 – TORONTO – A team of scientists at Brock University is poised to begin testing mosquitoes native to Canada to determine whether the insects can become infected with Zika and potentially transmit the virus to humans.

The St. Catharines, Ont., university, the only academic institution in Canada with a Level 3 containment lab that includes an insectary, received a shipment of Zika virus this week from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg — the only other Canadian facility with a similar high-security capacity where such research can be safely conducted.

“Now that we’ve been working in the CL3 lab, we can now be proactive,” said lead researcher Fiona Hunter, a medical and veterinary entomologist who specializes in mosquitoes and other biting insects.

“We don’t have to wait until some traveller comes back to Canada with Zika virus and gets bitten by a local mosquito and wait on tenterhooks to see whether or not there will be local transmission,” Hunter told a media briefing Friday.

The big issue here is does the virus replicate inside the female mosquito, does it then travel throughout her body and eventually get to the salivary glands so that when she spits into her next blood-meal host, is she transmitting virus?”

There are about 67 different resident mosquito species in Ontario, but the team will concentrate on about a dozen of them — including the Asian bush mosquito (Aedes japonicus), a local relative of A. aegypti and A. albopictus.

Meanwhile, the national lab also will test Zika in about a dozen mosquito species, about half of them unique to Western Canada.

When the Winnipeg lab acquires Zika isolates from Brazil, which may differ genetically from the Thailand strain of the virus, it will provide Hunter’s team with samples so further testing can be done by both groups.

Que sera, sera, Whatever will be, will be, The future is not ours to see, Que sera, sera !
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