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Monkeys Infected by Mosquito Bites Further Zika Virus Research

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Monkeys who catch Zika virus through bites from infected mosquitoes develop infections that look like human Zika cases, and may help researchers understand the many ways Zika can be transmitted.

Monkeys who catch Zika virus through bites from infected mosquitoes develop infections that look like human Zika cases, and may help researchers understand the many ways Zika can be transmitted.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison infected rhesus macaques at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center with Zika virus one of two ways: by allowing mosquitoes carrying the virus to feed on the monkeys or by injecting virus under the skin, the common method for infecting animals in laboratory studies.

The differences between the resulting infections — reported today (Dec. 13, 2017) in the journal Nature Communications — were subtle, but will be useful as scientists continue to learn more about Zika after a high-profile epidemic in the Americas caused grave birth defects.

“It’s important in a laboratory setting to understand the difference between mosquito transmission and sexual transmission and needle inoculation,” says Matthew Aliota, a UW–Madison research professor of pathobiological sciences and one of the authors of the new study. “But better understanding these transmission routes is also important from a broader standpoint in terms of prevention and severity of disease and risk factors involved with certain behavior.”

Read more at University of Wisconsin-Madison

Image: Matthew Aliota, assistant scientist in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences in the School of Veterinary Medicine, works with a strain of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes stored in a research lab insectary in the Hanson Biomedical Sciences Building. Aliota is an expert on mosquito-borne pathogens such as the Zika virus, dengue fever and yellow fever infections. (Photo: Jeff Miller)