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'Good' mozzie virus might hold key to fighting human disease

Date:
November 17, 2015
Source:
University of Queensland
Summary:
A new virus has been discovered that is carried by one of the Australia's most common pest mosquitoes. The new virus -- known as Parramatta River virus -- infects only mosquitoes and doesn't pose any direct health risks to people, according to the researchers.
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The saltmarsh mosquito Aedes vigilax.
Credit: Stephen Doggett (NSW Health Pathology)

Australian scientists have discovered a new virus carried by one of the country's most common pest mosquitoes.

The new virus -- known as Parramatta River virus -- infects only mosquitoes and doesn't pose any direct health risks to people, according to University of Queensland (UQ) and University of Sydney researchers.

Dr Jody Hobson-Peters, of UQ's Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, said the discovery could pave the way to stopping outbreaks of mosquito-borne disease.

"Viruses are typically viewed as harmful," she said.

"Rarely do we consider that some viruses may hold the key to fighting back against human disease.

"The presence of Parramatta River virus or other similar "good" viruses in a mosquito may make it harder for the human disease-causing 'bad' viruses to also infect that mosquito, thus stopping disease transmission.

"This discovery highlights how little we know about mosquitoes and their relationships with pathogens.

By learning about mosquito-borne viruses we may be better able to predict outbreaks of mosquito-borne disease."

University of Sydney medical entomologist Dr Cameron Webb said the saltmarsh Aedes vigilax mosquito, responsible for spreading Ross River virus, was one of the most common pest mosquitoes in coastal regions of Australia, including Sydney and Brisbane.

"It probably bites more people than any other mosquito," he said.

"With this discovery, we could find a way to vaccinate mosquitoes and stop their bites making thousands of Australians sick every summer."

Queensland and New South Wales recorded a big outbreak of Ross River virus, with this year thousands of people falling ill.

Parramatta River virus was discovered in saltmarsh mosquitos collected just west of the Sydney CBD in 2007, and its presence was again confirmed last year and this year in Brisbane.

Dr Hobson-Peters and colleagues, including UQ PhD student Breeanna McLean, developed and implemented a new system to rapidly screen thousands of mosquitoes for the new virus.

"It's incredibly exciting that we detected Parramatta River virus using our new virus discovery system," Ms McLean said.

"Never before have we been able to assess mosquito populations for novel viruses so easily."

The virus was isolated, cultured and described from a "soup" of mosquitoes collected in the wetlands along the Parramatta River.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Queensland. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Breeanna J. McLean, Jody Hobson-Peters, Cameron E. Webb, Daniel Watterson, Natalie A. Prow, Hong Duyen Nguyen, Sonja Hall-Mendelin, David Warrilow, Cheryl A. Johansen, Cassie C. Jansen, Andrew F. van den Hurk, Nigel W. Beebe, Esther Schnettler, Ross T. Barnard, Roy A. Hall. A novel insect-specific flavivirus replicates only in Aedes-derived cells and persists at high prevalence in wild Aedes vigilax populations in Sydney, Australia. Virology, 2015; 486: 272 DOI: 10.1016/j.virol.2015.07.021

Cite This Page:

University of Queensland. "'Good' mozzie virus might hold key to fighting human disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151117181507.htm>.
University of Queensland. (2015, November 17). 'Good' mozzie virus might hold key to fighting human disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151117181507.htm
University of Queensland. "'Good' mozzie virus might hold key to fighting human disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151117181507.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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