ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - As the number of cases of the Zika virus continue to rise in Florida, researchers at the University of Central Florida are working on a new way to help protect families.
Channel 9 learned about a new test that could quickly pick out whether the mosquitoes in someone’s backyard are carrying Zika, West Nile or another illness.
Dr. Bradley Willenberg, of the Department of Internal Medicine, said the hope of the test is to determine if a mosquito is carrying a disease instantly.
There is a wick that emits a smell mosquitoes are attracted to and when they feed, the mosquitoes will turn red. However, if a mosquito turns blue, it could be infected with Zika, dengue, West Nile or any other disease.
The change in color is caused by gold nanoparticles that cling to the disease inside the mosquito.
"They are able to detect these different biomarkers or pathogens in the insect or mosquito (so) we can detect what kind of disease they carry,” Dr. Sudipta Seal, of NanoScience Technology Center, said.
Testing mosquitoes to see if they’re infected can take a week as each mosquito is tested on at a time, but researchers use a trap to test to determine right away if the mosquito is infected.
"If they can get it in real time, then (they) can know right then and there where they have to take action,” Willenberg said.
Researchers will begin testing on live mosquitoes in the next few months. If all goes well, mosquito control officers could use the taps within the next year or so.
© 2018 Cox Media Group.