Aside from packing a nasty, itchy bite, mosquitoes are known to pass on diseases to humans that kill over one million people worldwide every year. But scientists are working on a way to make these deadly air-borne pests less lethal with the discovery of a "mosquito virus" which they hope to develop into a vaccine that could stop the spread of diseases such as Ross River virus and potentially even dengue.
Through a joint research program between the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland in Australia, the Parramatta River virus was discovered among some of the most common mosquito species Down Under.
It was first documented in the Sydney saltmarsh in 2007 and was confirmed sometime between 2014 and 2015. Reportedly, the researchers identified the virus in a "soup" of mosquitoes from the Parramatta River where the virus currently gets its name.
According to reports, the Parramatta River virus belongs to the same family of viruses as dengue fever; though it is not dangerous to humans. However, mosquitoes that are infected with the newly discovered virus are more difficult to be infected by deadlier viruses that do affect humans when bitten by the carrier mosquito.
Dr. Jody Hobson-Peters, one of the researchers from the University of Queensland's Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre, shared that further research into this mosquito virus can help them find a way to stop mosquito disease transmission in its tracks.
"If we can prove that this type of virus, along with other viruses we're finding, does prevent mosquitoes being infected with dengue, perhaps in the future we may be able to stop it altogether," she said.
The findings of the Australian researchers were published in the science journal Virology.