MANHATTAN (KSNT) — With more people being infected by the Zika virus, scientists and researchers have more questions right now than answers to combat the epidemic that has so far infected areas in North and South America. But researchers at the Biosecurity Research Institute at K-State are trying to answer those tough questions about the complicated virus.
Stephen Higgs, director of the Biosecurity Research Institute, says that scientists are studying cases similar to the Zika virus.
“Mosquitos are probably the most dangerous animal that there is in terms of the spread of diseases,” he says.
But mosquitos’ mischievous past is a stepping stone for answers. That’s why researchers are looking at two mosquitos who are the current carriers of the Zika virus, and also the previous carriers of a similar disease seen in 2011: Chikungunya.
“That has kind of shown us the way in what these viruses can do,” says Higgs.
The two mosquitos are the Yellow Fever mosquito and the Asian Tiger mosquito. While we have those species in Kansas, Higgs says they aren’t abundant and don’t carry the Zika virus. Scientists are also researching Japanese encephalitis, which is a mosquito-born virus similar to Zika.
But is Kansas under threat? Higgs says that it’s unlikely but the future is unpredictable.
“Nature always seems to be ahead of us. We just don’t know what is next.”