BSI professor helps fight Zika, inform the public

Posted by Jennifer Lacayo

In July, when South Florida became the first place in the U.S. to report locally transmitted Zika cases, the eyes of the nation turned to our area and found several FIU experts with deep knowledge and a willingness to help the community navigate the Zika outbreak.

ImageFIU biologist Matthew DeGennaro studies mosquitoes, the world’s deadliest animal and the carrier of Zika. The tiny insects also carry several other mosquito-borne illnesses that account for 725,000 deaths worldwide every year. He is the first scientist in the world to create a mutant mosquito, a feat that has enabled him to study mosquito behavior. He hopes his work in understanding why mosquitoes prefer humans will lead to better repellants. In the meantime, DeGennaro, who conducts his research as part of the Biomolecular Sciences Institute in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education, insists on the importance of using DEET, the most effective mosquito repellant currently on the market.

“DEET should be Miami’s new perfume,” said DeGennaro in a recent network TV interview.

Since the outbreak was first detected, the local, national and international media have turned to FIU for experts to help explain Zika and calm fears. FIU experts have done more than 100 interviews and reached more than 168 million people around the nation through media coverage worth more than $1 million.

CBS Evening News- DEET should be Miami’s new perfume

Miami Herald- From A to Zika: Answers to key questions

The Guardian- Democrats demand Congress end its vacation to approve Zika funding

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