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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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Mission Rabies 2017 off to a great start

News Story 1
 More than 4,500 dogs have been vaccinated against rabies in one of the first major drives of 2017.

It took just two weeks in January for Mission Rabies to vaccinate 4,575 dogs in the Meru district of Tanzania.

The team set-up vaccination points across the district and followed-up with door-to-door work, checking vaccination cards and giving vaccines to any dogs that had been missed.

Overall, the charity reached 75 per cent of the local dog population, smashing last year's total and comfortably above the required 70 per cent.  

News Shorts
US science association honours leading Pirbright scientist

A leading scientist at The Pirbright Institute has been honoured by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as a 2017-2018 AAAS Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellow.

Dr Anthony Wilson, group leader for integrative entomology at Pirbright, was chosen from a large number of international applicants, together with 14 other infectious disease researchers from around the world.

In selecting the new Public Engagement Fellows, the AAAS said they had demonstrated, "...leadership and excellence in their research careers and interest in promoting meaningful dialogue between science and society".