Brazilian scientists have detected traces of the Zika virus in the common mosquito Culex which means it can potentially transmit the disease, the media reported on Friday.
Tests were conducted on more than 200 Culex mosquitoes. However, the results are still being verified, and there is no evidence to suggest that Culex could contaminate human beings, Xinhua news agency reported.
Until now, it was believed that the only Zika vector is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also transmits dengue and chikungunya.
The discovery was made by the Rio de Janeiro-based Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and announced on Wednesday in a seminar on Zika.
Fiocruz researchers are now hunting for Culex specimens in areas affected by Zika to determine the extent of Culex carrying the virus in the wild. This study will last for six to eight months before a conclusion is reached.
In Brazilian cities, the Culex is 20 times more common than the Aedes aegypti, say researchers. This kind of mosquito, which can be found worldwide, lays eggs in dirty water, as opposed to the Aedes aegypti, which reproduces in clean water.
The proliferation of the Culex in urban areas is spurred by poor sanitation, a serious issue for poor areas in the country.