By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON — In its brief lifespan, the mosquito that carries the Zika virus is caught in a race: Will it pass the disease to humans before it dies?
Weather might make the difference. Scientists say the hotter it gets, the more likely the insect can spread disease.
As the temperature rises, nearly everything about the biology of the Aedes aegypti mosquito — the one that carries Zika, dengue fever and other diseases — speeds up when it comes to spreading disease, said entomologist Bill Reisen of the University of California Davis.
"With higher temperatures you have more mosquitoes feeding more frequently and having a greater chance of acquiring infection. And then the virus replicates faster because it's hotter, therefore the mosquitoes can transmit earlier in their life," Reisen said. The thermodynamics of mosquitoes are "driven by temperature."
Warmer temperatures also make the mosquito hungrier, so it takes more "blood meals" and can spread the disease to more people, Scott, Reisen and others said. And warmer temperatures generally increase the mosquito population.
Kristie Ebi, a professor of global health at the University of Washington, calls it "a temperature-driven eruption."