UMass scientists to begin testing soon for mosquito viruses - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

UMass scientists to begin testing soon for mosquito viruses

Posted: Updated:
(Image Courtesy: MGN Online / Rafaelgilo / Wikipedia) (Image Courtesy: MGN Online / Rafaelgilo / Wikipedia)

Warmer weather mixed with Wednesday's rain means mosquito season is back.

Scientists at UMass are already looking at where such things as the West Nile and the Zika Virus may be headed, and how to prevent them from spreading.

The lab at UMass Amherst is known as one of the only tick testing labs in the country. 

Anyone can send a tick to the lab, and within about 48-hours, they'll tell you whether it carries a virus like Lyme Disease. 

Beginning in May, UMass is taking that same technology they use for ticks with the same basic equipment and applying it to mosquitoes.

"We'll start receiving mosquitoes from all over the continental United States; 47 sites, 15,000 mosquito pools of up to 50 mosquitoes in each pool," said Dr. Stephen Rich at UMass Amherst.
Dr. Stephen Rich is the head of the university's Laboratory of Medical Zoology. He told Western Mass News the project is a partnership with the National Science Foundation.

"It's a mammoth project for us, and we're going to be testing for up to 18 different viruses in those mosquitoes," Dr. Rich explained. 

The spread of the Zika and other viruses are a driving force behind the project.
"Eastern equine encephalitis virus for decades, and in the past couple of decades, the West Nile Virus known to be transmitted by mosquitos that are endemic here in Massachusetts," Dr. Rich noted.  
Eventually, Dr. Rich said the lab would like to extend the service to homeowners; similar to their tick report program. 

"On the mosquito side of things we probably wouldn't ask people to be sending us mosquitoes that bit them, but people who are conducting backyard mosquito trapping to basically mitigate their mosquito problems. They could empty those little boxes out and send them to us and we could also test them so they can see what viruses are in their backyards," Dr. Rich continued. 
Dr. Rich said that service could be offered within the next few months.
He added that they are also in talks with the Department of Public Health to offer mosquito testing to municipalities across the Bay State. 

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, WGGB/WSHM; Springfield, MA. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.