Medicine 6: Taking the Virus out of the Bite! Mosquito-Borne Diseases are Tracked in the Insect’s Body
1:53
Grades: 6 to 12

Everyone is at risk of mosquito bites during mosquito season.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no vaccines or medications are available for most viruses spread by mosquitoes.  The CDC described how disease epidemics are happening more often, including the recent Zika (2015-2017) and chikungunya (2013-2014) epidemics.  West Nile virus in the most common virus spread my mosquitoes in the continental United States. 

Researchers at the University of Missouri are trying to stop the spread of mosquito viruses by studying the molecular interactions of arthropod-borne (arbo)viruses, such as chikungunya and Zika viruses.  The work is being done in the lab of Alexander Franz, an assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine.  The goal is to understand the molecular basis of mosquito vector competence for arboviruses and to develop novel strategies for interrupting the viral disease cycle in the insect. 

Franz and his research team hope to one day take the virus out of the mosquito’s bite by inhibiting the genes involved with the release of the virus from within the mosquito’s stomach.  This would prevent future transmission of mosquito-borne diseases. 

With the help of state-of-the-art technology, they can see how a virus moves within a mosquito’s body, which could lead to the prevention of mosquitoes transmitting diseases.  Three separate electron microscopes are used to view the virus traveling through the mosquito, beginning with its midgut, or stomach.  The first two microscopes provided different two-dimensional views of a single layer of tissue in the mosquito’s stomach. The third, a focused ion beam electron microscope, allowed researchers to see multiple layers of tissue. 

“Previously, the common understanding was that when a mosquito has picked up a virus, it first needs some time to build up inside the midgut, or stomach, before infecting other tissues in the mosquito,” said Franz. “However, our observations show that this process occurs at a much faster pace; in fact, there is only a narrow window of 32 to 48 hours between the initial infection and the virus leaving the mosquito’s stomach. For this field of research, that revelation is eye opening.”

Student Tools
Student Tool 66: Video Reflection Worksheet
Students can use this activity on their own to share their learning and insights about any video they watch independently, and this Student Tool can also be used in conjunction with Teacher Tool 318: Sharing Your Insights Through A Reflection Worksheet as part of a classroom or homeschool activity. This tool can be used with any video on the Educate.Today website.
Student Tool 75: Predict, Reflect, Question Student Worksheet
Have students use this worksheet in conjunction with any video on our Educate.Today website.
Teacher Tools
Teacher Tool 317: Cross Curricular Activity–Sharing Insights Through a Journal Entry
This teacher tool, accompanying the video above, provides an Interdisciplinary activity that invites students to write a journal entry that shares learning and insights they gained by watching the video. This tool can be used with any video on the Educate.Today website.
Teacher Tool 318: Cross Curricular Activity–Video Reflection
This teacher tool, accompanying the video above, provides an Interdisciplinary activity that invites students to complete a reflection worksheet to share learning and insights they gained by watching the video. This tool can be used with any video on the Educate.Today website.
Teacher Tool 319: Cross Curricular Activity–Sharing Learning Verbally
This teacher tool, accompanying the video above, provides an Interdisciplinary activity that invites students to share learning and insights they gained by watching the video through verbal sharing and conversation. This tool can be used with any video on the Educate.Today website.
Teacher Tool 320: Vocabulary Interesting to Me
This teacher tool, accompanying the video above, invites students to increase their vocabulary by selecting, and learning the definitions of, words in the video that are unknown and/or interesting to them. This tool can be used with any video on the Educate.Today website.
Teacher Tool 321: Vocabulary Activity
This teacher tool, accompanying the video above, asks students to listen for certain vocabulary words you have selected and define them in two ways: 1) contextually based on what they think the definition might be based on what they learn in the video; and 2) through a dictionary to either confirm or refine their contextual definition. This tool can be used with any video on the Educate.Today website.
Loading