Researchers from Johns Hopkins University will get a share of $15 million in funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development to go toward Zika research.
The agency awarded 21 grants for what it characterized as "potentially game-changing solutions to mitigate the spread and impact of the Zika virus." The USAID did not provide a breakdown of how the money would be distributed.
Four teams of Hopkins researchers will share in the money, including three from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and one from Johns Hopkins University where researchers are “pursuing an idea that originated at a recent Zika hackathon,” according to the university. The funding is going to research with the potential to prevent and detect Zika and help respond to other infectious disease outbreaks.
The USAID received nearly 900 submissions from around the world and selected recipients with groundbreaking ideas on addressing the Zika outbreak.
One of the Hopkins research teams will look at what human scents are attractive to the mosquito that carries Zika. Another will further study a new bacterium, Chromobacterium which can kill larvae and adult mosquitos that transmit Zika, malaria and other diseases. A third award will go toward studying how changing behavior about getting rid of standing water, where mosquitos breed, can stop the transmission of Zika. The fourth project would improve the current approach to mosquito population surveillance.
There have been 54 confirmed Zika cases in Maryland. So far there's no evidence of local transmission of the illness in the state.
While Zika is a mild infection for most people, the virus can cause microcephaly, a disorder which stunts the growth of the heads and brains of fetuses and causes paralysis in some people. The virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and through sexual contact.