WATCH: TTU professor discusses Zika Virus with House Science Committee in D.C.

Published: May. 25, 2016 at 3:08 PM CDT|Updated: May. 25, 2016 at 3:29 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KCBD) - Steven M. Presley, a professor of environmental toxicology at Texas Tech University, testified about his work related to the Zika virus in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology this morning in Washington, D.C.

Presley's testimony at the hearing, "Science of Zika: The DNA of an Epidemic" was streamed on YouTube. He was joined on the panel by experts from the University of Arizona, Harvard and Oxitec, an insect control company.

Presley, a professor in the Department of Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech University, also directs the Biological Threat Research Laboratory at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH). This lab is the only place in West Texas equipped to test human samples for certain potentially infectious diseases and where samples of potentially infected mosquitoes go.

It also means Presley will be among the first to know when the Zika virus spreads to West Texas. Although his lab team has yet to test a positive sample, he's watching the mosquito populations closely. Zika worries him. The virus has been found in bodily fluids including saliva, blood, urine, amniotic fluids and semen and has been spread through sexual contact and from a mother to her unborn child in addition to mosquito bites. However, only one in five infected people are symptomatic, meaning 80 percent of those with Zika don't know they have it and aren't taking precautions to keep it from spreading, which is especially problematic in universities, cities and major hubs with travelers from throughout the world.

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