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Zika in primates ‘raises risk of human outbreaks’
Mosquito
Zika is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito.

Experts assess likelihood of disease entering primate populations

The Zika virus could be transmitted to primates in areas where Zika infections are prevalent, a leading expert has warned.

According to ScienceNews, disease ecologist Barbara Han said that if Zika spreads to primates, the animals could serve as a reservoir for human outbreaks.

This would make it almost impossible to get rid of the virus, she cautioned.

Ms Han was speaking at the American Society for Microbiology Biothreats meeting, which took place in Washington (6-8 February). She and her colleagues assessed the likelihood of Zika entering primate populations in South America using criteria such as body size, diet and species range.

On their list of at-risk species is the black-striped capuchin monkey and the common marmoset - both of which have already tested positive for Zika virus matching the human strain.

‘The finding indicates the spill-back has already started,’ reports ScienceNews.

Capuchin monkeys are particularly at risk, experts say, due to their close proximity with humans. 

Zika is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito and can be passed from a pregnant women to her foetus. Infections during pregnancy can lead to serious birth defects, such as an abnormally small head. 

In November, the World Health Organisation declared that Zika was no longer a global emergency. However, Zika virus and its associated consequences still remain a significant challenge to public health.

 

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Art installation uses 15,000 discarded plastic bottles

News Story 1
 London Zoo has unveiled a new art installation made from 15,000 discarded single-use plastic bottles, all of which were collected from London and its waterways. The installation, dubbed the Space of Waste, is 16ft tall and was created by the artist and architect Nick Wood. It houses information about plastic pollution and the small steps that everyone can take to tackle the issue.

Mr Wood commented: “Building this piece with ZSL was a satisfying challenge, as plastic bottles are not usually seen as a building material – recycling them into this structure, which will remain at ZSL London Zoo all summer, was a great way to turn the culprits themselves into a stark visual reminder of the worsening plastic problem in our city.” Image © David Parry/PAWIRE/ZSL 

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News Shorts
Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.