University of Wisconsin–Madison

Fighting Enigmatic Viruses

The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been linked to cases of babies born with underdeveloped brains and small heads, reached pandemic proportions in 2016. But before Zika started making international headlines, scientists at the School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) were already working to better understand the disease.

In fact, SVM researchers were part of the team that first confirmed the presence of Zika in Colombia. Since then, they have shown that a benign bacteria can be used to prevent mosquitoes from transmitting the virus and have also developed a new model for studying the disease.

In addition, SVM scientists have joined a campus-wide collaboration looking to expand our limited knowledge of the Zika virus. They have already discovered that one infection with Zika virus protects against future infection, a promising finding for vaccine design, and they continue to learn more about the mechanisms by which the virus causes birth defects. Ultimately, more knowledge will lead to better ways to fight the disease.