A&M-San Antonio professor and students conduct summer research to survey mosquitoes that transmit Zika

By University Communications
Thursday, 06 02 2016

At a glance:

  • Biology professor, Dr. Megan Wise de Valdez, and students are surveying the mosquito that transmits Zika virus.
  • Researchers seeking 100 volunteer home owners in San Antonio who will allow the traps in their front yards for 10 weeks.
  • Wise de Valdez is an expert vector biologist and has more than 15 years of experience with this specific mosquito.

SAN ANTONIO (June 2, 2016)—Megan Wise de Valdez, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and coordinator of the biology program at Texas A&M-San Antonio, is an integral part of both Texas A&M Health Science Center and Zika360 team and the Zika Taskforce that is headed by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. As a nationally recognized expert, she, along with a team of undergraduate researchers, are working on summer research distributing more than 100 mosquito traps to homes throughout the city to survey for the mosquito that transmits the Zika virus. This is the first study of its kind in San Antonio because of the wide-spread nature of the surveillance and because the focus is on residential areas within city limits.

With six confirmed cases of Zika in Bexar County as of May 2016, Wise de Valdez and her students’ work becomes an even more important part of the preparedness plan for the city.

Wise de Valdez was asked to be part of the Taskforce because of her expertise in mosquito ecology and her mosquito surveillance experience. Her area of research is an available source of insight on the recent and future spread of the Zika virus.

“My area of expertise as a vector biologist is the mosquito that carries the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti,” says Wise de Valdez. She has more than 15 years of experience with this specific mosquito and specializes in Aedes aegypti behavior.

The goal is to understand the distribution of mosquitoes that carry diseases like Zika in order to help in control efforts. Dr. Wise de Valdez and team are working with at least 100 volunteer home owners who will allow the traps to stay in an inconspicuous location in their front yards for approximately 10 weeks during the summer. Each week, undergraduate researchers from A&M-San Antonio will tend to the traps; collect data such as the number of mosquitoes, the mosquito species, and any environmental variables.  The researchers will then share the data with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.  

For more information about the study, visit http://bit.ly/mosquitosa.

About Texas A&M University-San Antonio

With a nearly 700-acre Main Campus to expand into, the military-embracing university recently announced its expansion to welcome freshman and sophomore applicants to enroll in fall 2016. Currently enrolling nearly 4,600 students, Texas A&M University-San Antonio is the fastest-growing university in the state. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are available for the lowest university tuition in San Antonio for a variety of in-demand fields, including teacher preparation, business, information technology, and cyber security. To learn more, visit www.tamusa.edu.