UTRGV researchers apply for federal grant to stop mosquito-borne illnesses

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Several researchers at the University of the Rio Grande Valley are working on an application to send to the Centers for Disease Control to build a center which will track illnesses spread through mosquitoes and limit their impact.

Several researchers at the University of the Rio Grande Valley are working on an application to send to the Centers for Disease Control to build a center which will track illnesses spread through mosquitoes and limit their impact.

“We would be studying infectious diseases including things like Zika virus and it would involve multiple institutions throughout Texas and UTRGV would be one and the focal point down here,” said Dr. Christopher Vitek, a UTRGV professor who is part of the team requesting the grant. 

The center would be the Western Gulf Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease and it would be located in Hidalgo County.

Mosquitoes have affected the Rio Grande Valley for some time, so researchers believe the region would be a good area to study mosquito-borne illnesses.

“This area is one of the prime areas that potentially might be a source of introduction for disease and so by focusing on what’s going on in this area, we would be able to better predict what’s coming in from Mexico or through other travelers,” Vitek said.

UTRGV is looking to partner with the county health department to obtain data and push educational material to the public.

The county health director will present the idea to the county commissioners Tuesday for approval.

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