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K-State Studying Zika Virus Despite Lack Of Dedicated Federal Funds


Congress has yet to come to an agreement on appropriating money to fund Zika virus research, but that hasn’t stopped Kansas State University researchers from studying the disease.

Scientists at K-State acquired samples of Zika from the CDC. The work has been going on at the Biosecurity Research Institute.

“We certainly hope and believe that we’re moving the knowledge and science forward,” says Biosecurity Research Institute Director Steve Higgs.

He says they’re studying how the virus infects mosquitos and what types of mosquitos can spread the infection.

“That sort of knowledge is very important in terms of directing control efforts. You have to be controlling the right type of mosquito,” Higgs says.

They have also grown the virus in the lab and provided it to other researchers.

Higgs says if Congress approves dedicated funding for Zika that could allow them to expand the work. The staff time and high-containment facilities needed to study the disease are not cheap.

On Thursday, the CDC announced it would award $60 million in funding to fight Zika as a "stopgap" until Congress acts. That includes $350,000 for Kansas.

Stephen Koranda is the managing editor of the Kansas News Service, based at KCUR. He has nearly 20 years of experience in public media as a reporter and editor.