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Researchers track West Nile Virus, study mosquito species in North Texas

James Kennedy, Regents professor of biological sciences, is conducting his 12th year of mosquito sampling and testing for West Nile Virus with the city of Denton — and it’s the first year that his results will be part of a database mapping instances of the virus across the country.

Bethany Hambrick ('13 B.S., right) examines mosquito samples ground by helper Erin Lamere (left).  Metal bb's are used together with a liquid mixture to break open the exoskeletons and release any virus they might be carrying.Results from UNT are sent to the Texas Department of Health State Services, where they are compared with tests from other parts of the state. The results also will go to the city of Denton and the Centers for Disease Control, a federal public health institute that tracks national trends in the West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus incidences in the North Texas region, including Denton County, were the highest reported rates in the nation in 2012, likely due to abnormally warm winter and spring weather. The virus, first found in North America in 1999, has spread through the nation and is assumed to be permanently established in the United States. (

“So far this year, there have been no positive tests showing West Nile in Denton, but I would expect positives to show before the season is over,” Kennedy said. “I’d like to be proven wrong. I’d like to not find any positive West Nile in Denton, but that would be surprising.”

— Office of Research and Economic Development

Posted on: Mon 05 August 2013

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