FIU professors help fight Zika, inform the public


Dr. Aileen Marty, professor of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at FIU, and the Florida Department of Health survey the Wynwood area

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.

Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine Professor Dr. Aileen M. Marty, who is a world-renown expert in infectious diseases has been at the forefront of the local response, in her capacity as a member of the State of Florida Medical Reserve Corps. In over 30 years of practicing medicine, 25 of them as a Navy doctor, she has traveled the world, treating diseases like leprosy, dengue, malaria and Ebola.

Now, she’s facing another virus – Zika. As a part of a surveillance program, Dr. Marty has led teams of Florida Department of Health officials, along with other members of the Medical Reserve Corps and volunteer medical students, going door-to-door in Wynwood and other neighborhoods in Miami to test residents for the Zika virus. This work has had a major impact. Their work helped confirm that there was, in fact, local mosquito transmission.

“We all know the saying ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ – the idea that you act and address something before it becomes a problem – that’s what the Florida Department of Health has done. It has been on the forefront of understanding and tackling Zika,” said Dr. Marty.


FIU Professor Matthew DeGennaro tests research methods to help control mosquitoes that spread Zika

FIU biologist Matthew DeGennarostudies mosquitoes, the world’s deadliest animal and the carrier of Zika, along with 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.

Here is some of the latest coverage featuring FIU experts.

At least 14 Zika cases tied to Miami’s Wynwood District
Dr. Aileen Marty, FIU’s infectious disease expert, speaks about the key things people need to know about Zika and how it’s spread.

CDC: Zika mosquitoes may resist sprays
NBC: Nightly News
Dr. Aileen Marty, FIU’s infectious disease expert, explains how Zika is spread.

Zika virus and fear spreading
NBC: Today
FIU’s Matthew DeGennaro and Dr. Rebeca Martinez discuss the spread of Zika.

Zika expert: “DEET should be Miami’s new perfume”
CBS Evening News
Dr. Matthew DeGennaro is a Florida International University mosquito geneticist, who believes Zika will spread to other pockets of Miami Dade county.

From A to Zika: Answers to key questions
Miami Herald
Dr. Matthew DeGenarro of Florida International University’s Laboratory of Mosquito Genetics and Behavior points out that there is a difference in testing positive …

Zika fears in Florida
Good Morning America- ABC
Aileen Marty from Florida International University reminding people to take extra precaution with the Zika disease.

Democrats demand Congress end its vacation to approve Zika funding
The Guardian
Aileen Marty is professor of infectious diseases at Florida International University and has worked as an expert in, among other disciplines, tropical diseases and …

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