Researchers have not found primary carrier of Zika in Missouri

Published: Aug. 8, 2016 at 5:16 PM CDT
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We first told you about a mosquito study at Missouri State University a month ago. Researchers there tell us they have still not found the primary carrier of Zika virus in Missouri. But that doesn't mean Zika couldn't be transmitted here.

At Missouri State University, Dr. David Claborn and others have been studying Missouri mosquitoes for about ten weeks now. They're not searching for Zika virus, but surveying what mosquitoes are here, because only certain species are known to transmit disease to humans.

They've found a few dozen species, and collected around 15,000 mosquitoes from nearly every area of the state. Since June 1st, they haven't found any Yellow Fever, or Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the primary transmitter of Zika virus.

But another that can transmit the virus, the Asian Tiger mosquito, Dr. Claborn says is found in almost every area of the state. However, researchers think it wouldn't spread the disease as quickly.

"Aedes aegypti likes to feed on humans, so they're very efficient in transmitting diseases when they do bite. The other mosquitoes, they may like to feed on birds every once in a while or maybe a possum here and there or a cat or a dog, so they're less efficient in transmission of the diseases, perhaps," Claborn said.

Claborn says in the Gulf Coast states like Florida and Texas, they have permanent programs to study the species of mosquitoes in their areas but those types of programs are more intermittent in areas like Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Health is funding the study. Claborn says he hopes to continue collecting mosquitoes until at least the end of October.