By: BTN News
New research indicates wild monkeys in South America are carrying the Zika virus, which then is transmitted to people via mosquitoes, with scientists saying it may be impossible to eradicate the virus in the Americas.
Zika is relatively harmless to most people, but can lead to birth defects in babies whose mothers are infected during pregnancy. Mosquitoes are the prime transmitters of the disease to people.
“Our findings change our understanding of the ecology and transmission of Zika virus in the Americas,” said senior study author Nikos Vasilakis, a professor in the department of pathology at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
“A natural transmission cycle involving local mosquitoes and wild local primates as a reservoir and amplification host will impact our predictions of new outbreaks in the Americas, because we cannot eradicate this natural transmission cycle,” Vasilakis said.
After the carcasses of wild monkeys in Brazil were found to be infected with Zika, the researchers infected four monkeys with the Zika virus in a laboratory.
They found that levels of the virus remained steady over time, suggesting that monkeys are a reservoir of the virus in tropical areas of the Americas.
Senior study author doctor Mauricio Lacerda Nogueira said: “This is a game changer for people involved with disease control – including vaccine developers, public health officials and policymakers.”