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Wednesday , November 14 2018
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Tag Archives: mosquitoes

NMSU Professor Awarded $1.46 Million Grant; Will Help Study Mosquito Reproduction

A professor in New Mexico State University’s Department of Biology received a $1.46 million grant to study amino acid transport in mosquitoes in the hopes of finding new ways for controlling their population.

Immo Hansen, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, received the grant from the National Institutes of Health at the beginning of July.

“We’re going to study how mosquitoes move amino acids from one tissue to the next,” Hansen said. “They get these amino acids from our blood when they bite us. Then, in other tissues, they use these amino acids to make yolk proteins in order to make eggs and reproduce.”

The amino acids cross a layer called the mid-gut, then are transported to the fat-body tissue, where they are made into yolk proteins, Hansen said.

“The amino acids move across at least four cell membranes and in order to do that, they need a transporter protein,” Hansen. “Mosquitoes have more than 100 different amino acid transporter proteins but we’re going to focus on a group of cationic transporters that have been shown to be really important. If you can develop inhibitors that stop these transporters from doing their job, the mosquito can’t produce any fertile eggs.”

04/27/2016: Aedes aegypti mosquito specimens studied in Immo Hansen’s molecular vector physiology lab at NMSU. (Photo by Darren Phillips)

For now the research will focus on the species Aedes aegypti, the Yellow Fever mosquito, which has a dense population in southern New Mexico and is a known carrier for Dengue fever, Zika virus, and Chikungunya.

Hansen is collaborating on this research with Omar Holguin, assistant professor in NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, who will conduct metabolism research on the mosquitoes. A third collaborator is Dmitri Boudko from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago, who is an expert in membrane physiology, specifically the study of ion currents in biological tissues.

“We’re going to be taking amino acid transporters from mosquitoes and express them in frog eggs,” Hansen said. “The frog eggs will then produce the mosquito transporter proteins and we can study them with a technique called electrophysiology.”

Hansen said research into population control of mosquitoes is important now because many insecticides have “lost their punch.”

“Mosquitoes in Las Cruces and Roswell are highly resistant to the typical insecticides people use,” he said. “It’s amazing how fast their resistance has evolved.”

The NIH grant will fund this research for the next four years and allow the three professors to hire a postdoctoral fellows to assist in their research.

Author: Billy Huntsman – NMSU

Mosquitoes Trapped in El Paso Test Positive for West Nile Virus

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health has been notified that one of several mosquito pools collected here have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

“When it comes to West Nile virus it is never really a question of ‘if’ we can expect to see the disease locally, but rather ‘when”, said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director. “What we can do is be proactive against being bitten and be aware that there are other diseases that could present themselves in El Paso.”

The Vector Control Program with the Environmental Services Department has been setting traps this season since May. The mosquito pool that tested positive was located in the central part of town within the 79903 zip code.

In years past, human cases of diseases like Chikungunya, Dengue, and Zika virus have been seen in El Paso but in travel-associated cases only. El Paso has yet to see a locally acquired case of these diseases. When it comes to West Nile, there have been no cases reported this season, but a total of 14 human cases were confirmed locally last year.

As we continue to see sporadic rains in the area, residents are reminded that it only takes a teaspoon of water to create breeding conditions around your home.

El Pasoans are urged to “Tip and Toss” items outside their homes frequently, to prevent stagnant water which could result in mosquito breeding. Residents should also follow these tips.

  • DEET – Use insect repellents that contain DEET when outdoors.
  • DRESS – Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors.
  • DUSK and DAWN – Although mosquitoes associated with Zika can be active throughout the day, residents should take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours (from dusk to dawn) or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
  • DRAIN – Drain standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, and birdbaths.

For more information on the Public Health Department, call 2-1-1 or visit www.EPHealth.com or www.EPSalud.com

West Nile Virus Cases Double Last Week

A total of six new cases of West Nile Virus confirmed over the past week has brought the total number of cases in El Paso to 11 so far this season.

“We need to remember that it takes about a teaspoon of water to create breeding conditions for mosquitoes that carry the West Nile Virus,” said Lead Epidemiologist Fernando Gonzalez.

“As soon as we see rain, we need to start thinking about getting outside our homes and getting rid of it,” Gonzalez added

The news comes as the Sun City continues to experience seasonal rains with more expected in the coming days.

To report standing water or mosquito breeding, call 3-1-1.

The following is a compilation of cases identified by Department of Public Health epidemiologist:

Case Gender Age Residence  
11 Male Mid 20’s Central New
10 Male Late 50’s Mission Valley New
9 Male Late 70’s Westside New
8 Female Late 60’s Central New
7 Female Early 70’s East Colonia New
6 Male Mid 70’s Socorro New
5 Male Late 40’s Westside
4 Male Mid 70’s Central
3 Male Mid 40’s Mission Valley
2 Male Early 50’s Eastside
1 Male Mid 40’s Eastside

The most effective way to avoid mosquito-borne illnesses, is to prevent mosquito bites and use the 4 D’s:

  • DEET – Use insect repellents that contain deet when outdoors.
  • DRESS – Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors.
  • DUSK and DAWN – Although mosquitoes associated with Zika can be active throughout the day, residents should take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours (from dusk to dawn) or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
  • DRAIN – Drain standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, and birdbaths.

Residents can also mosquito-proof their home by repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.  For more information on mosquitoes, visit www.EPHealth.com or www.EPSalud.com.

New Mexico Public Health Officials on watch for Zika Virus

SANTA FE, N.M. – Public Health officials in New Mexico say there is currently no evidence that the Zika virus has spread to the state, but they’re taking precautions.

The disease, which is rampant in parts of Latin America, is believed to cause severe birth defects if contracted by a woman during pregnancy.

Paul Ettestad, a veterinarian for the New Mexico Department of Public Health, says the state’s approach to prevention is to keep health care workers informed on the disease.

“We have a health alert network where we have several thousand of health care providers around New Mexico,” he points out. “We’ll send them out the email with the health advisory with signs and symptoms to look out for and details in terms of what samples to collect to diagnose the illness.”

Ettestad says while no one in New Mexico has been diagnosed with the Zika virus, about 30 cases have been identified in other states among people who have recently traveled to southern Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted warnings regarding travel to those regions.

Ettestad says Zika is transmitted by the yellow fever mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito. Both are in parts of southern and eastern New Mexico.

He says, so far, there is no evidence that the virus can be spread from person-to-person, but a mosquito that bites an infected human can pass it along.

“There is the potential for someone who could bring it into our southern counties of New Mexico, where we do have the species of mosquitoes that can potentially transmit the Zika virus,” he states.

Health officials are asking residents to take precautions against exposure to mosquitoes by wearing long sleeves and long pants, and keeping windows closed.

Residents can also take steps to deprive mosquitoes of breeding grounds by removing standing pools of water.

Author:  Mark Richardson, Public News Service (NM)