Researcher fears Zika surfacing in Canada

Fiona Hunter By Gerald V. Paul
Fiona Hunter
By Gerald V. Paul

Canadian entomologist Fiona Hunter says she is concerned that the Zika virus could end up in mosquitoes that are native to Canada due to global warming.
Hunter, a professor at Brock University, said that while Aedes egpyti doesn’t live in Canada – and she doesn’t expect to see it in her lifetime – her fear is the virus could end up in homegrown mosquitoes or in species that are now being found in Canada due to global warming, like the tiger mosquito.
“I’m certainly interested in finding out new ways of trapping them, because the traps that we use don’t actually pick these invasive species up.
“Aedes alboqictus (the tiger mosquito) we also think is a competent vector of Zika. We do think that’s it’s on its way northward,” said Hunter.
And the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Sunday that the virus is likely to spread further across the Caribbean. Yesterday, there was a report of a case in Cuba, the first in that nation.
In Guyana, the Public Health Ministry is to encouraging use of chemically treated bed nets to protect against the virus. The ministry has distributed more than 5,000 nets countrywide and 75,000 more are available for distribution.
Guyanese are accustomed to sleeping under nets due to the prevalence of mosquitoes, so this is not a major change for people there. Distribution of the treated nets includes emphasis on expectant mothers.
While pregnant women have the same risk as the rest of the population of being infected with Zika, research is underway to determine if the virus causes birth defects.
Researchers have also said the Zika virus appears to be capable of spreading through sexual contact and visitors to infected areas have been warned to take precautions, including pregnant women or those expecting to become pregnant soon.
Most people remain unaware they have the virus as they may not develop any symptoms. One in four infected with Zika develop symptoms and in those with symptoms the illness is usually mild.
Unlike most mosquitoes which prefer to bite animals, this one prefers people. And it carries several dangerous viruses, including Zika.
The virus has now been found in more than 30 countries and there are concerns it may spread farther.
Caribbean Camera readers are invited to financially support the fight against Zika in the Caribbean by donating at All donations will be forwarded to health authorities in The Islands.