The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is hosting a week-long workshop focused on yellow fever.
“Comparing surveillance systems and comparing how they’re doing their surveillance in trapping and assessments in Mexico, we want to mirror it here in Hidalgo County, along with some other efforts being put forth by the university,” said Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Chief Administrative Officer Eddie Olivarez.
Health officials representing the United States and the Mexican border such as Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas will discuss a number of topics, including surveillance and control of several viruses.
The yellow fever virus is transmitted typically through the bite of infected Aedes or Haemagogus species mosquitoes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mosquitoes of the same species have the ability to spread other diseases such as Zika and dengue fever.
“Between Laredo and Brownsville, we have 16 ports of entry and there’s millions and millions of people that cross legally, back and forth, in those ports of entry every month, so its real important that we help coordinate all of that,” said Olivarez.
During Tuesday’s meeting, surveillance programs, or traps, already in place throughout Mexico were discussed. However, there are concerns when it comes to the country’s landscape and weather.
“Seven thousand is the number they have counted with laboratory confirmation but there could be more. Everybody knows that there are more and the most important thing is basically to try to remember that prevention is the best tool that anybody has,” said CDC Director of Mexico Margarita Villarino.
For six UTRGV students, the pilot project is just the beginning. They will conduct their own study and place traps in colonias, looking to stop or reduce the transmission and impact of the viruses.
“There are some lands that we have in Mexico, not exactly the same but as I mentioned the colonias, the cemeteries, some ideal places that we are looking into,” said Associate Professor of the Department of Biology Teresa Feria, Ph.D.
Officials hope the workshop will help to lessen the impact the viruses could have.
“Mother nature is very powerful and very strong. Mother nature is gonna win at the end, but the whole thing is let’s not give it a large target,” said Olivarez.