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Mace & Crown | April 30, 2017

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Zika Mosquito Control Project

Zika Mosquito Control Project

 Saamia Aslam
Contributing Writer

The Zika virus is an infection that results from being bitten by an infected species of mosquitoes known as Aedes. It can be passed from a pregnant mother to her child, as well as other methods such as through sexual intercourse, blood transfusion and lab exposure. The symptoms, if any do occur, include fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain, headaches and red eyes. Diagnosis can be made through blood or urine tests.  There is currently no vaccine for the disease. Once infected, a person is likely to be protected from future infections. New information on the disease is still currently being discovered.

The virus has been occurring in many places across the world including Brazil and Guatemala, which were some of the ODU study abroad locations. The trips were cancelled because of the outbreak of the infection, but it inspired the beginning of the Zika Mosquito Control Project. The student and faculty response was to be more flexible and to find a solution to the issue,rather than focus on the problem.

Students from ODU, EVMS and CNU came together to conduct this project from June to August of 2016. It was a diverse group of participants including undergraduate and graduate students from the colleges of health and science, nursing, dental hygiene and public health departments. They connected with the National Institute of Health and attended a seminar where they were informed about the Zika virus and its effects. Ph.D. student My Ngoc Nguyen and Dr. Muge Akpinar came together and discussed how to address the Zika virus problem.

Nguyen was the coordinator of the project and worked with Norfolk’s health department and figured out a way to work with mosquito control. The project consisted of students trapping mosquitoes and bringing them back to the lab where they were put in a freezer for twenty minutes and put into a petri dish to be examined and identified as a part of the surveillance and identification processes. The project provided students with hands-on experience with the integrated vector management systems. They also conducted backyard surveillance.

One of the people associated with this project was Angelica Walker. She was involved with the surveillance and control aspects of the project. She went out to retrieve mosquitoes from the traps they had set at specific locations. She described her experience as a very interesting and educational one. She had the opportunity to work in labs and work with professional equipment to learn how to properly identify mosquitoes. Walker said that it is important to make connections with people in your field or fields similar to yours while you are in college. She also believed that the disease project is not limited to any certain major, it can affect anyone, so it is best if the majority are more aware about public health issues and how to deal with them.

This project was a global health effort. It provided service learning for a variety of disciplines and showed how limitations can be turned into opportunities. Student learned about teamwork and collaboration. Not only were they able to complete their academic requirements, but they were able to give back to their local community by taking action against a global health issue locally in Hampton Roads.