Texas A&M garners $10 million grant to establish center, fight vector-borne diseases

by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M AgriLife

Texas A&M AgriLife recently received a substantial monetary boost to bolster its aggressive fight to stem the spread of vector-borne diseases for the public good, said Dr. David Ragsdale, Texas A&M University entomology department head at College Station.

Ragsdale said the $10 million five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be used to establish the Western Gulf Coast Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases. Continue reading

Could a Zika epidemic start in your state? Absolutely

Michael Merchant, Extension Entomologist for Texas A&M AgriLife, shares the story of a Texas pest management professional who contracted Zika while on a mission trip in Dominica.

More than 1600 cases of Zika have been reported in the U.S. so far, but until last week all of these had been in travelers–people who caught the virus somewhere else and brought it here.  As of last week, however, the picture is changing.  Last week four cases among people who had not traveled outside of their town were reported from north Miami in south Florida.  In an alarming development for Miamians this morning, 10 new locally acquired cases were reported today, likely signaling the first home grown epidemic of Zika infection in the U.S. All cases so far have been restricted to the north Miami neighborhood of Wynwood.

Could this happen in Texas, or other states?  Absolutely. Continue reading

Research Technician position open at Texas A&M AgriLife

A Research Technician position is available in the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University. The successful candidate will join a research team focusing on biosurveillance of mosquito-borne viruses, including Zika, Chikungunya, and Dengue viruses in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Projects will involve working with local jurisdictions and community engagement to address research questions related to the risk of human exposure to mosquito-borne viruses along with enhanced biosurveillance in the region. The candidate will lead the field sampling and collections of mosquitoes. Continue reading

Information about Zika from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Wizzie Brown, Extension Program Specialist III – Urban IPM at Texas A&M AgriLife wrote the original blog post. You can find it at http://urban-ipm.blogspot.com/2016/02/zika-virus.html

I thought I would jump on the band wagon and get some information out about Zika virus.  This seems to be the latest and (not the) greatest in the news as of late.  Considering that the first case of local transmission was detected within Texas in the past week, everyone needs to know about this so they can take proper precautions. Continue reading

USDA Pest Management Program Targets Virus-transmitting Mosquitoes

By Sandra Avant, Agricultural Research Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators recently completed an area-wide pest management program targeting the Asian tiger mosquito (ATM), Aedes albopictus, which can transmit viruses such as dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika.

The six-year project, which demonstrated effective strategies to control the ATM in New Jersey, was a partnership between researchers at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE) in Gainesville, Florida; Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey; and the Mercer and Monmouth County Mosquito Control agencies. Entomologists at CMAVE’s Mosquito and Fly Research Unit also worked with economists at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, to convey important public health and socio-economic benefits of mosquito control. Continue reading

Florida readies for a fight with Zika virus

By JENNIFER KAY, Associated Press

Florida’s history of fighting off mosquito-borne outbreaks puts the state in perhaps better position than most when it comes to the Zika virus.

In 2014, chikungunya, a virus spread by the same species of mosquito as Zika, infected a million people in the Caribbean. While 452 travel-related cases were documented in Florida that year, just 11 people contracted the virus in the state. Last year, no locally acquired cases of chikungunya were reported, though 73 people picked up the virus while traveling. Continue reading

UK entomologist leads Zika solution effort

By Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

A University of Kentucky entomologist is  leading an international effort to find long-term, sustainable control options to effectively manage a mosquito known to transport several potential deadly viruses, including the Zika virus.

Grayson Brown, entomologist in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a former president of the Entomological Society of America, the world’s largest entomological organization. Brown along with Luciano Moriera of Brazil, are organizing a meeting of the world’s entomological societies March 13 in Maceió,Alagoas, Brazil. There, the world’s leading mosquito experts will discuss collaborative control options for Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits Zika virus, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Continue reading

Zika Virus: What You Need to Know About its Vector – The Aedes aegypti Mosquito

This document was posted by the Entomological Society of America.

The Zika virus, originally from Africa, first appeared in the Western hemisphere on Chile’s Easter Island in 2014 and was initially found on the mainland in Brazil in April 2015. Since then, it has spread very rapidly throughout Latin America and is now found as far north as northeastern Mexico. Though infection of healthy adults does not produce symptoms as severe as other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue or chikungunya, it appears to be linked to microcephaly in babies born to mothers infected in the first trimester of pregnancy. To date, the incidence of microcephaly, a condition in which children are born with an abnormally small head and potential issues in brain development, in Brazil has increased significantly since the Zika virus began to circulate there. Continue reading

Summit of the Americas on the Aedes aegypti Crisis

This one-day summit will be the first of many large-scale international meetings of the Grand Challenges initiative. It will be held during the Joint Meeting of the Brazilian Congress of Entomology and the Latin American Congress of Entomology.

As two of the largest insect-science societies in the world, the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the Sociedade Entomológica do Brasil (SEB) are convening leading scientific, business, and NGO experts and leaders to map out a plan for successfully managing the Aedes aegypti mosquito, an insect that is a vector of Zika virus, yellow fever, dengue, and chikungunya and that is causing serious public health crises across the hemisphere. Continue reading

Global warming may affect effectiveness of permethrin, study shows

From the Entomological Society of America

The effectiveness of an important mosquito-fighting insecticide may be impaired by global warming, according to a recent study in the Journal of Medical Entomology. Two researchers from Montana State University, graduate student Shavonn Whiten and Dr. Robert Peterson, have shown that permethrin becomes less effective at killing the yellowfever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) as temperatures increase.

These mosquitoes, which are found in the tropics and the subtropics, can transmit viruses that lead to dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and other diseases. Continue reading