The campus of Texas A&M University-Kingsville is blanketed with South Texas humidity. The combination of moisture and heat are perfect for mosquitos.
The campus is firmly in the zone for infectious disease.
Assistant Professor Richard Laughlin is the expert in all things infectious.
With a biochemistry bachelors from Stetson University and a doctorate in biochemistry from Clemson University, his interest in infectious diseases began as an undergraduate.
“The battle between host and pathogen is a compelling topic, and encapsulates many of the principles of evolution,” Lauglin says.
Laughlin has spent a lot of time on food-borne illnesses and learning how they develop.
“[Food-borne illnesses are] those that are spread by contaminated food and water. This wasn’t planned, but the biology behind these infections in very interesting,” said Laughlin. “With 70% of the human immune system found in the intestines, it is remarkable that so many pathogens succesfully establish infectious by this route.”
Currently, Zika is being found in Texas, from cases that are traveled related. According to www.texaszika.org/, Primarily, Zika is spread through mosquito bites but can spread from mother to child, blood transfusion, and sexual contact from a partner that has Zika. There are mild or no symptoms. The common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).
“Access to medical professionals is an important resources – one that we shouldn’t take for granted. If you are feeling sick, go see a professional!” said Laughlin. Resources for health are Women’s and Men’s Health Clinic across the stadium, your family doctor, or the TAMUK Student Health and Wellness Center.
“I’m more aware of it since I’m female and it can affect me even more than males but I wear mosquitoes repellent when I’m outside or I just stay inside,” said Michelle Villarreal, Masters student in biology.
However, if you take Laughlin’s lab, “we take the time to discuss appropriate techniques, persona equipment, and proper decontamination protocols to stay safe. Since m lab works with the human pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium, we take great care to make sure everyone is working carefully and safely,” said Laughlin.
“The media doesn’t say much about it but my family does spray the yard for mosquitoes every other week because of the diseases mosquitoes carry.
“When I’m not home I tend to stay inside,” said Villarreal.