Angelina County Agrilife office participates in statewide Zika study

Angelina County Agrilife office participates in statewide Zika study
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A study being conducted by the Texas A&M Agrilife Service could bring much needed information to East Texans in the fight against the Zika virus.

"It is really interesting that some of the most dangerous things that we got running around here is mosquitoes because they carry human disease," Agrilife agent Cary Sims said.

For the last few weeks Sims has been collecting 25 samples from across Angelina County that could lead to a breakthrough in the fight against the Zika Virus. The samples are to determine if both of the Zika mosquito species are in Angelina County.

One of the two, the Asian Tiger Mosquito has been identified in the county. The other, the yellow fever mosquito has not been discovered yet.

"Just because we cannot see it does not mean it is not here," Sims said. "We need to pay attention."

Each site has 5 collection cups that give an ideal spot for the mosquitoes.

"Floodwater mosquitoes will lay their eggs on something organic like a piece of paper in this example just above water," Sims said. "The cup is dark so it does allow for mosquitoes to look at it as a natural place to lay the eggs."

The collections sites are in the more urbanized areas of the counties.

"We want to focus on those areas where we have population density," Sims said. "We're not interested if it is in the middle of the national forest or in the middle of somebody's ranch. We're looking where there is a lot of folks together."

Samples are collected once a week and sent off to a lab where researchers are monitoring the growth and hope to give county health officials data that would show or discredit the spread of the virus.

Sims still urges caution despite not having the results back.

"We are still going to have to control mosquitoes," Sims said. "We are still going to have to avoid mosquito contact. There are other diseases that mosquitoes carry. Knowledge is key."

Sims said the trial could resume in the spring.

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