Notre Dame mosquito researcher weighs in on Zika


The Zika zone is expanding in Florida as Miami Beach sees a huge increase in cases and money is running out to help study and fight Zika. Congress has not yet passed a bill to fund it. Now, a Notre Dame researcher is weighing in.

Researchers at Notre Dame are starting to look into Zika. They already study the mosquito species called Aedes aegypti -- the primary global mosquito transmitter of a number of viruses around the planet. including Zika.

Dr. Dave Severson is a Professor of biological sciences at Notre Dame and has been studying this species for decades. In fact, his team is responsible for understanding the mosquitoes DNA -- crucial information in learning how and why they are able to transmit these dangerous viruses.

"With the idea of, can we use that information down the road to develop some sort of transmission prevention strategy," says Severson.

Severson says, the Zika virus is not new. In fact, scientists have known about it for decades.

"Zika was considered an obscure virus. We've known about this since the 40s. It was a minor virus and something changed and now it's this big problem. There are many more of these viruses," says Severson.

Even though this virus has been around for years Severson says there is still much we don't know.

Aedes aegypti is difficult to control and good at survival. But they haven't been able to figure out why Zika itself seems to be causing microcephaly in babies of mothers who contract the virus.

"We could maybe think about doing some of those kinds of things if Congress would get their act together and find some research to look at this. It is atrocious that they just walked away this summer and left us hanging," says Severson.

Severson says this species of mosquito is difficult to control and we should expect the cases of Zika to increase in the US. But, they like hot and wet weather so you can expect their population and Zika concerns to drop off when Florida cools down.

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