CASSVILLE, Mo. — A study from Crowder College is shedding new light on how a dangerous virus could be spread in the Ozarks.
The study, which was conducted by students at Crowder College and science professor, David Jamieson, found the dominant form of mosquito in Barry County is capable of carrying the Zika Virus.
“It’s a lot of people contacting me with questions,” says Jamieson. “So this mosquito that’s the most abundant one is actually exotic?’”
It’s called the Asian Tiger Mosquito, due to the black and white striped pattern on its body. Unlike native mosquitoes who are unable to carry Zika, the Asian Tiger Mosquito can.
About 45 percent of the mosquitoes collected in the study were the Asian Tiger type, the second largest category of species accounted for 17 percent.
Jamieson says while the study focused its efforts in Barry County, he believes the findings could apply to most of the Ozarks.
“Springfield, Joplin, West Plains, Popular Bluff,” he says. “There’s no doubt in my mind the Asian Tiger Mosquito is the principle pest species in a suburban environment.”
But the invasive species didn’t take the number one spot overnight, Jamieson says.
The Asian Tiger first popped up in North America in 1985, Jamieson found its presence in Arkansas in 1991, and it’s probably been in Missouri for well over a decade.
Even though the carrier can be found in abundance, the mosquito has to have the Zika Virus to become a major health concern.
“As long as we don’t have a case develop directly here in the area, it’s probably not cause for great alarm,” says Barry County Health Department Administrator, Roger Brock.
Brock says, as is the case with most threats, the public simply needs to limit its exposure to mosquitoes and take the appropriate precautions.
“You’re going to have a lot less likelihood of coming into contact with anything that’s transmitted through mosquitoes,” he says.
“Individuals like us can do something about it,” says Jamieson.
“All we have to do is limit standing water in small containers in neighborhoods, “he says. “Just remove the habitat.”
Jamieson says the 45 percent figure can be a bit misleading. He says the study found some neighborhoods where the Asian Tiger Mosquito accounted for 100 percent of all samples.