Florida Universities Receive $10 Million For Zika Research

Researchers From Florida Universities To Lead Zika Research

On Thursday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a $10 million grant to four Florida universities for Zika research.

The announcement comes after Florida spent this past summer as the home for Zika in the United States. Now efforts are being made to fight the virus from spreading.

The grant will be used as a collaboration between the University of Florida, the University of Miami, Florida International University and the University of South Florida. The universities will study Zika and other diseases spread by mosquitoes.

Rhoel Dinglasan, lead researcher at the University of Florida, told the Miami Herald that Florida is the logical choice for this new research center, which has been named the Southeast Regional Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Disease. He said this is because Florida is the gateway for mosquito-borne disease outbreaks in the U.S.

“There’s so much movement within our state. That’s not just Floridians, there’s also movement from other places into our state,” he said to the Miami Herald. “Mosquitoes are well-traveled. They don’t need a passport.”

The first locally-spread case of Zika in the U.S. was reported in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood in July. Shortly after the virus spread to other parts of Miami-Dade, which made efforts to study Zika speed up. With the extra effort new cases have slowed in South Florida and last month the last Zika zone was lifted on Miami Beach.

The CDC said that with the $10 million, which is part of the $184 million funding efforts to protect against Zika, researchers at these Florida universities will be able to test the most effective ways of mosquito control.

 

“This will give Florida the ability to evaluate new approaches to mosquito control that haven’t been tried in the U.S. yet,” said Matthew DeGennaro, a researcher at FIU who is part of the new center, to the Miami Herald. “The coordination and the collaboration and the money that is provided will, I think, make Florida’s response to any mosquito-borne illness better.”

Though it is unusual for major universities to join in this level of collaboration, researchers recognize it is a race about the clock to prevent Zika from spreading further in Florida.

“I think the CDC is really making something unique happen here in Florida. The academic

world is trying to respond to this crisis and I think that we can work together with mosquito control and all of these different groups,” DeGennaro said to the Miami Herald.

The CDC grant will be used over a five-year period and the universities plan to use part of the funding to train mosquito control workers and public health and biology students as well.

 

 

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News Talk Florida Staff