UA Expertise on Zika Virus

The mosquito-borne Zika virus has spread to more than 20 countries, concentrated mostly in Central and South America and the Caribbean. The first U.S. case was reported in Texas.

Although much is not known about Zika, there is evidence that it is linked to a birth defect, microcephaly, which is characterized by a shrunken head and incomplete brain development. The virus has been found in the amniotic fluid of pregnant women carrying babies with the birth defect.


University of Arizona Experts on Zika

Michael Riehle, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Member of the BIO5 Institute
UA Institute of the Environment faculty affiliate
UA main campus, Tucson, AZ

Research focuses on the mosquitoes that transmit malaria (Anopheles) and dengue fever (Aedes aegypti). The latter type carries the Zika virus. 

Heidi Brown, PhD, MPH

Assistant Professor
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
School of Geography and Development, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
UA Institute of the Environment faculty affiliate
UA Health Sciences, Tucson, AZ

Research focuses on the epidemiology and control of vector-borne (mosquito) and zoonotic diseases. Her goal is to identify human disease risk by modeling vector, host and pathogen distributions. Her research blends field collecting, ecological assessment, epidemiological analysis, spatial statistics, remote sensing and computer-based modeling to develop a more comprehensive view of disease dynamics. Current research areas include West Nile virus, dengue, canine heartworm, valley fever, spatial epidemiology and the effects of climate change.

Kacey Ernst, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
School of Geography and Development, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
UA Institute of the Environment faculty affiliate
UA Health Sciences, Tucson, AZ

Infectious disease epidemiologist with a focus on mosquito-borne illnesses, including a special focus in Arizona-Sonora on Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and Zika. Her expertise is in transmission dynamics and prevention strategies.

David Beyda, MD

Chair and Professor, Department of Bioethics and Medical Humanism, College of Medicine – Phoenix
Director, Global Health Program
Professor, Child Health
UA College of Medicine – Phoenix

Upcoming trip to Nicaragua. Can discuss spread of Zika virus worldwide and the impact on public health. Can describe the birth defects that can result from a Zika virus infection and address sexual transmission of the virus.




UA Zika Experts in the News

Community empowerment, not walls, will prevent Zika
The Hill, 8/30/17

Somerton residents sought for mosquito study
Yuma Sun, 8/26/17

The Zika tracking app Kidenga is necessary for pregnant travelers
Romper, 8/7/17

UA mobile app tracks Zika virus for summer travelers
AZ Big Media, 8/6/17

Researchers seek participants for Zika virus tracking mobile app
Homeland Preparedness News, 7/31/17

Zika virus was spreading quietly a year before anyone knew, gene study shows
NBC News, 5/26/17

What the DNA of the Zika virus tells scientists about its rapid spread
Los Angeles Times, 5/25/17

Miami's Zika outbreak began months before it was first detected
NPR, 5/24/17

How Zika conquered the Americas
The Atlantic, 5/24/17

Zika hit Florida months before infections found, study says
The Associated Press, 5/24/17

GOP health bill would cut nearly $47 million in Arizona public health funds
The Arizona Republic, 3/15/17

Zika virus linked to heart trouble in some adults
CBS News, 3/10/17

Science isn’t just for scientists—we can all take part
Yes! Magazine, 2/14/17

Important facts about the Zika virus you need to know
Mom-Spot, 12/1/16

Zika hotline set up for Tucsonans to call with concerns
Arizona Daily Star, 10/12/16

UA researchers creates Kidenga: crowd sharing app for viruses
Arizona Daily Wildcat, 10/11/16

24-hour Zika, West Nile hotline now staffed in Pima County
Arizona Public Media, 10/11/16

Kidenga: an app for reporting Zika symptoms
Arizona Daily Star, 10/11/16

Zika virus call center now in southern Arizona
KOLD-TV, 10/10/16

Tucson startup says it has Zika cure in sights
Arizona Daily Star, 10/8/16

New mobile application tracks mosquito-borne diseases
The Brownsville Herald (Texas), 10/6/16

App tracks Zika by enlisting the help of 'citizen scientists'
Consumer Affairs, 10/3/16

Phone app helps track Zika, other diseases
Arizona Public Media, 9/28/16

UA scientists launch Zika virus app
KVOA-TV (Tucson), 9/27/16

AZ researchers focus on Zika virus, mosquitoes
Cronkite News, 9/14/16

Wet Tucson summer means mosquitoes are everywhere
Arizona Daily Star, 8/27/16

First case of Zika in SE Arizona
Eastern Arizona Courier, 8/24/16

Texas researchers on front line of battle to stop Zika spread in USA
USA Today, 8/23/16

Professor explains Tucson's Zika risk
KVOA-TV (Tucson), 7/31/16

Zika virus is a risk in border regions
Arizona Daily Star, 7/10/16

List of possible Zika birth defects grows longer
Scientific American, 6/24/16

Diet and mosquitoes: Is what you eat making you tastier to them?
KPHO-TV (Phoenix), 6/24/16

Malaria-proof mosquitos could eliminate Zika
USA Today, 6/8/16

Zika virus warning issued to pregnant women planning holidays
LidTime, 5/30/16

Arizona surveillance helps track Zika, but residents can help, too
Cronkite News, 5/26/16

U.S. House committee hearing focuses on Zika 'epidemic'
Florida Keys News, 5/25/16

UA receives grant for Zika virus research
KOLD-TV Tucson, 5/23/16

UA researchers working to predict spread of Zika virus
Arizona Daily Star, 5/14/16

National Science Foundation awards $1.7 million in rapid response grants to study Zika virus
National Science Foundation, 5/11/16

What you need to know about mosquitoes and your health this summer
The Huffington Post, 5/11/16

UA project aims to help in fight against Zika virus
KVOA-TV (Tucson), 4/21/16

Should Tucsonans worry about Zika?
Arizona Sonora News Service, 4/19/16

Q&A: UA expert talks Zika virus and its threat to Arizona
Arizona Daily Wildcat, 4/15/16

Pentagon monitoring 190 bases most at risk for Zika
USA Today, 4/11/16

Rain breeds Zika mosquitoes
National Geographic, 4/9/16

Can we keep Zika out of the US blood supply?
National Geographic, 3/17/16

Potential Zika virus risk estimated for 50 U.S. cities
National Science Foundation, 3/16/16

Arizona's prime weapons against Zika — traps and slogans
Arizona Daily Star, 3/12/16

The link between Zika and climate change
The Atlantic, 2/24/16

Zika clarified
KXCI-Radio (Tucson), 2/23/16

UA doctor answers questions about the widespread Zika virus
Arizona Public Media, 2/22/16

UA re-engineering mosquitoes to resist disease
Arizona Public Media, 2/17/16

Colombia notebook: How my assumptions about Zika got turned upside down
STAT, 2/16/16

Zika isn't the only mosquito-borne disease to be worried about
Arizona Sonora News Service, 2/11/16

Public health emergency persists as Zika virus spreads
Arizona Daily Wildcat, 2/10/16

Warming world spreads a wider welcome mat for Zika-carrying mosquitoes
Inside Climate News, 2/9/16

The Zika mosquito is here; not the virus
Arizona Daily Star, 2/6/16

UA professors hope mosquito study provides clues to stopping Zika virus
KOLD-TV (Tucson), 2/4/16

Southern Arizona health care experts prep for possible Zika spread
KVOA-TV (Tucson), 2/3/16

Officials: First US Zika transmission found in Texas
The Arizona Republic, 2/3/16

Texas reports first case in the USA of sexually transmitted Zika virus
KPNX-TV (Phoenix), 2/2/16

The Zika virus disproportionately affects the poor and this is why
Buzzfeed, 2/2/16

State health chief: No Zika virus in AZ, yet
KOLD-TV (Tucson), 1/28/16

Is El Niño to blame for the Zika virus outbreak?
Mother Jones, 1/28/16

How climate change could help the spread of Zika virus and other infectious diseases
The Washington Post, 1/21/16

CDC issues travel warning for pregnant women because of Zika virus
KOLD-TV (Tucson), 1/19/16

Could spread of Zika virus be linked to climate change?
NBC News, 1/18/16

The Zika virus may cause birth defects, and experts think it's coming to the US
MSN, 1/6/16


Media Contact

Doug Carroll
UA University Relations, Communications