Nav: Home

Zika virus research at Biosecurity Research Institute aims to control, fight mosquitoes

July 01, 2016

MANHATTAN, KANSAS -- Kansas State University is helping the fight against Zika virus through mosquito research.

The university's Biosecurity Research Institute is taking a two-part approach: Researchers are studying mosquitoes to understand how they become infected with Zika virus and researchers are providing the virus to collaborative organizations for further study.

The university research is key to fighting Zika virus because it can develop better methods for controlling the mosquitoes that spread the virus, said Stephen Higgs, director of the Biosecurity Research Institute.

"We are hoping to provide some answers and insights into the relationship between Zika virus and the mosquito," Higgs said.

Since Zika virus emerged in Brazil last year, the U.S. has seen more than 700 cases, including the first case in Kansas in March.

The Biosecurity Research Institute has had Zika virus isolates for several years, but has started conducting collaborative research because of the recent outbreak. University scientists have been growing samples of the virus and antibodies and providing them to collaborators for further research into vaccines and diagnostics.

"Countries are spending resources to control the spread of mosquitoes, we want to make sure we are controlling the right mosquitoes in the right way," Higgs said. "This research can help us target the particular species of mosquitoes that we know are carriers of Zika virus."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified two mosquito species that transmit Zika virus: Aedes aegypti, or yellow fever mosquito, and Aedes albopictus, or Asian tiger mosquito. Both mosquitoes are widely distributed in the U.S. and are present in Kansas. These two mosquito species live close to people and can breed in houses, said Higgs, who also has studied chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has a similar transmission cycle to that of Zika virus.

At the Biosecurity Research Institute, Higgs and university scientists are gathering details about how Zika virus interacts with different mosquitoes. Researchers are studying how long after a mosquito feeds on a blood meal that it can transmit Zika virus. The amount of time is unknown for Zika virus, but with other viruses it can range from five days to two weeks. Similarly, the research can show how much virus a person needs to have in their blood in order to infect a mosquito. If mosquitoes feed on a relatively low level, they may not become infected.

Only 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus show symptoms, Higgs said, but it is possible that even people without symptoms may have enough virus in the blood to infect mosquitoes.

"As we learn how much virus is in human blood, knowing how much virus needs to be in the blood in order to infect a mosquito will tell us at what point after infection a person can infect another mosquito and for how long," Higgs said. "It is important to know these details because it can help us develop better controlling measures."

But there are still many unanswered questions relating to Zika virus, Higgs said. It is still unknown exactly what human cells are affected by the virus, if livestock are affected by the virus, what other transmission mechanisms are possible and when a vaccine may be available.

The Biosecurity Research Institute can help answer some of those questions and is equipped to handle any vaccine studies as well as diagnostic studies, Higgs said.

"This research is important to prepare us long-term for the next virus that comes," Higgs said. "We can't predict what that will be, but there will be something else that will be introduced and we need effective surveillance programs to help control them. We need the fundamental research and applied research that we can get here at the Biosecurity Research Institute."

Higgs and collaborators have published their research in the Journal of Medical Entomology.
Higgs is the president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and is an expert in vector biology, arthropod-borne infectious diseases, immune modulation and vaccine evaluation.

Kansas State University

Related Mosquitoes Articles:

In urban Baltimore, poor neighborhoods have more mosquitoes
A new study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology reports that in Baltimore, Maryland, neighborhoods with high levels of residential abandonment are hotspots for tiger mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus).
Researchers use light to manipulate mosquitoes
Scientists at the University of Notre Dame have found that exposure to just 10 minutes of light at night suppresses biting and manipulates flight behavior in the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, the major vector for transmission of malaria in Africa.
Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus could simultaneously transmit other viruses
A new study led by Colorado State University found that Aedes aegypti, the primary mosquito that carries Zika virus, might also transmit chikungunya and dengue viruses with one bite.
Insecticide-induced leg loss does not eliminate biting in mosquitoes
Researchers at LSTM have found that mosquitoes that lose multiple legs after contact with insecticide may still be able to spread malaria and lay eggs.
New study sheds light on how mosquitoes wing it
The unique mechanisms involved in mosquito flight have been shared for the first time in a new Oxford University collaboration, which could inform future aerodynamic innovations, including tiny scale flying tech.
For female mosquitoes, two sets of odor sensors are better than one
A team of Vanderbilt biologists has found that the malaria mosquito has a second complete set of odor receptors that are specially tuned to human scents.
Common bacterium may help control disease-bearing mosquitoes
Genes from a common bacterium can be harnessed to sterilize male insects, a tool that can potentially control populations of both disease-bearing mosquitoes and agricultural pests, researchers at Yale University and Vanderbilt University report in related studies published Feb.
Scientists opened a new chapter in the study of malaria mosquitoes
In December 2016, the American Journal of Vector Ecology published two articles by Yuri Novikov, a scientist at the TSU Biological Institute devoted to the study of ecology and the distribution one of the species of malaria mosquito of the maculipennis complex and its laboratory cultivation.
Blocking hormone activity in mosquitoes could help reduce malaria spread
Disruption of hormone signaling in mosquitoes may reduce their ability to transmit the parasite that causes malaria, according to a new study published in PLOS Pathogens.
Experimental insecticide explodes mosquitoes, not honeybees
In a new study, Vanderbilt pharmacologist Jerod Denton, Ph.D., Ohio State entomologist Peter Piermarini, Ph.D., and colleagues report an experimental molecule that inhibits kidney function in mosquitoes and thus might provide a new way to control the deadliest animal on Earth.

Related Mosquitoes Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...