person using mosquito spray on kid

Why is Zika still important to the U.S.?

In *All, Safety by AgIsAmerica

Zika, a virus spread through mosquito bites which can cause both paralysis and birth defects, made the news after a 2015 outbreak in Brazil that quickly spread to other countries. Though it may have faded from public consciousness, the Zika virus is something that still has scientists and public health officials very concerned.

Fortunately, a research team at the University of Florida (a state that was one of the most affected by the Zika virus) has taken steps to help us better understand the spread and effects of the disease. Associate professor of entomology at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory (FMEL), Barry Alto, says “this study addresses the gaps in our understanding of the epidemiology of Zika”. The main objective is to comprehend the so-called vector competence.  This refers to how likely it is that a mosquito will be infected and then pass that infection on.

UF’s research team tested this by taking uninfected mosquitos and giving them a luncheon of infected blood alongside some Zika-infested friends. They ended up finding that two types of mosquitos found in Florida, the yellow fever mosquito and Asian tiger mosquito, are both very adept at carrying and transmitting the disease. Now we know that not all types of mosquitos are as disease-oriented as these two: variations in biology make some better at transmitting the virus than others, with these two types coming out on top.

Using their newfound information, UF hopes to be able to predict future outbreaks with more accuracy and be able to take steps to prevent them from happening. To check out what they’ve been learning, read the full article here.

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