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Local scientists work toward cure for West Nile virus

With three cases of West Nile virus confirmed in El Paso and hundreds of cases across the state of Texas, the City of El Paso is doing its part to ensure the public remains safe.

At the Texas Tech Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, scientists are working diligently to find a cure for the disease.

According to Dr. Manjunath Swamy, a professor at the school, his team of five has made progress in locating a cure.

“We have found several RNAs can effectively kill West Nile. and not only West Nile virus, but other related viruses,” Swamy said.

Swamy explained his team uses a process called RNA interference.

While technical, Swamy said it similar to the basic idea of sending small RNA to the brain like a drug. Once there, they can locate and eliminate the West Nile genome.

Of course, this is a difficult task. Especially since, according to Swamy, “The brain is the most difficult organ in the body to send drugs into.”

He said the process his team has worked on for six years has been successful on mice.

Swamy is also hopeful that in the future the study will lead to clinical trials, and ultimately, FDA approval.

Until then, people should still prepare for more cases to arise.

“August and September are main seasons for infection, therefore we are likely to see more cases,” Swamy said.

While the case count in El Paso is not nearly as high as other areas of Texas, such as Dallas, the county is still doing their part to ensure our residents stay safe.

Vector Control is spraying for mosquito larvae, and advising El Pasoans to take precautionary measures.

“The water stagnates, there will be mosquitoes. So it’s better to just make sure your area is clean. If you think you see a lot of mosquitoes or breeding give us a call,” supervisor for Vector Control Danny Soto said.

If you would like to contact Vector Control about standing water, or another mosquito threat, their phone number is 915-599-6290.

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