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Mosquito researchers track dengue fever in Sonora, Mexico

Biologists from the University of Arizona in Tucson are teaming up with health officials from the Mexican state of Sonora to learn more about the mosquitoes that carry dengue and West Nile viruses and about the disease-causing organisms.

The reported number of dengue fever cases in Sonora has been increasing in the last several years, and the disease appears to be moving north. The dengue fever season in Sonora, the Mexican state just south of Arizona, is seasonal and peaks mid-October, after the summer rainy season.

The UA team will travel to Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora, July 15 and 16 to give public health officials a workshop on trapping and identifying various species of mosquitoes. The team will collect mosquitoes in Hermosillo, Guaymas and Navojoa.

Dengue fever is sometimes called "break-bone fever" because the disease is so painful. One form, dengue hemorrhagic fever, is fatal in about five percent of patients. Currently there is no vaccine against the disease.

"The way to look at it is, dengue is an enemy," said Therese Ann Markow, director of the UA Center for Insect Science and Regents' Professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. "The idea is to get to know your enemy well in order to know its weak spots."

Markow is collaborating with Sonoran health officials Dr. Francisco Javier Navarro Glvez, director general of Servicios de Salud de la Comunidad (director of community health services), and Dr. J. Gerardo Mada Velez, director, Enfermedades Transmisibles por Vector y Zonosis (director of vector-borne diseases).

The newly formed UA-Mexican research collaboration will investigate the ecology, genetics and distribution of various mosquito species in Sonora and of the four types of dengue virus and its close relative, West Nile virus.

"The ecology, distribution and genetics of the mosquitoes and the viruses need to be studied simultaneously to understand how they interact to cause disease,"
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Contact: Mari N. Jensen
mnjensen@email.arizona.edu
520-626-9635
University of Arizona
7-Jul-2004


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