Indian Mosquitoes Easily Transmit ZIKA Virus Infection to Suckling Mice


Zika is a virus which started in Africa and has spread to other countries in short span. Now, according to a study conducted by NIV Pune, the scientists demonstrated how Indian mosquitoes, when infected with African strain of the zika virus (ZIKV), can easily transmit the infection to suckling mice. Their study published on March 29 this year in Intervirology showcasing the implications of the virus transmission.

A team of scientists from National Institute of Virology, National Jalma Institute of Leprosy and other Mycobacterial diseases and others research institutes have shown how the Indian Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya viruses is easily susceptible to the zika virus. This study has shown that Indian mosquitoes pick up the ZIKV in a natural way.

Director of NIV, Dr Devendra Mourya told Indian Express in an interview that, “We have shown their susceptibility when they were injected with ZIKV. We wanted to check how much time it took for the virus to replicate — cross the stomach gut barrier to the saliva, and through experiments we found that the Indian mosquito… is very susceptible to the zika virus.”

Experiments were performed to understand the natural disease progression in infant mice after the bite of mosquitoes infected by the ZIKV. The mosquitoes were experimentally infected with zika virus (African Strain MR-766) through the oral-feeding route, which is the natural mode by which mosquitoes get the virus. Infected mosquitoes were allowed to bite on infant and suckling mice.

Sick mice were euthanised, and their organs were collected and subjected to three detection tests — real-time RT-PCR, histopathology, and Immunohistochemistry [IHC] — to check for the presence of the virus. The results showed clinical symptoms such as trembling, solitary behaviour, nervous signs, no movement, and lethargy appeared in mice after 4-5 days of being bitten by the infected mosquitoes.

“There is a need to explore possibilities for containing the virus. These, in turn, demand advanced knowledge regarding the natural replication cycle. Our data from this study suggests that mice are highly susceptible to natural infection with this zika virus strain and, hence should be explored as a suitable model for understanding the virus’s natural transmission and disease progression,” the NIV director added.

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