Change in Zika virus sparks pandemic fear for Australians

Change in Zika virus sparks fear for Australians

The terrifying Zika virus, which can cause babies to have horrific birth defects, has reportedly leapt to a new breed of mosquito.

A researcher in Brazil has made the discovery about the virus, which was originally thought to only be carried by one type of mosquito.

It seems the virus has an immense ability to evolve, according to Constancia Ayres.

She is one of Brazil's leading experts on Zika, and the researcher behind the new information.

Her discovery means the virus may no longer only exist in tropical areas.

Instead, it has the potential to become an epidemic capable of spreading across the globe.

Ms Ayres said she believed the discovery meant the virus could easily become a world-wide pandemic.

"Yes, a pandemic," she told Sunday Night. "Like the United States, Australia, the whole of Europe."

The type of mosquito originally thought to be the only Zika-bearing kind was Aedis Egypti.

However, Ms Ayres has just proved that the world's most common mosquito, Culex, is also a carrier.

The Aedis Egypti exists only in north Queenslan.

But the Culex mosquito variety exists in every state in Australia.

Meanwhile, Australian are set to visit Brazil for the Rio Olympics, where traditional methods of control are "not working", Ms Ayres said.

Ms Ayres said her discovery, coupled with the return of Australians from Brazil, could mean the spread of Zika would "accelerate" dramatically across Australia, and the world.

Watch the full story on Sunday Night, on Channel 7 at 7pm.