Western Illinois University researches Zika virus spread

MACOMB, Ill. (AP) — Western Illinois University students and faculty scientists are spending the summer doing research related to how Zika virus spreads from mosquitoes to humans.

The Vector Biology Program at Western is led by Assistant Professor of Biology Catherine Miller-Hunt. It will soon begin studying how the Zika virus gets into human cells and looking for ways to stop it.

The virus is spread mainly through the bite of a tropical mosquito that can be found in the southern United States, but there’s no evidence that the mosquito has been spreading the virus in the mainland U.S. yet.

Zika causes only a mild and brief illness, at worst, in most people. But it can cause fetal deaths and severe birth defects in the children of women infected during pregnancy.