While Congress Debates Zika, Citizen Scientists Fight Mosquitoes

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The Asian tiger mosquito is widespread in New York. So far, there is only laboratory evidence that it can carry the zika virus, but scientists are watching closely.
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After months of delay, the House and the Senate moved this week to provide the federal government with funding for Zika virus research and prevention.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a $1.1 billion bill approving emergency funding without offsets. The House is expected to vote today on their version of a Zika funding bill, which provides just $622 million to combat the virus and pulls its money from existing health programs.

Both numbers are significantly less than the $1.9 billion dollars in emergency spending that the White House has requested to fight the virus.

Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich has the details on this funding fight.

While Congress debates the price tag for the campaign to stop the Zika virus, the USDA has come up with a cost effective tool of chronicling the spread of mosquitoes: Citizen scientists.

The Invasive Mosquito Project has been calling on everyone from gardeners to school children to collect mosquito eggs in their communities, and get in touch with their local Mosquito Control Districts, which are located throughout the country and were originally created to fight malaria.

The Project hopes to use citizen scientists to create a nationwide dynamic map to track mosquito distribution, and to help combat diseases from Zika to heartworms in pets.

Lee Cohnstaedt, a Kansas-based entomologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, is head of The Invasive Mosquito Project. He says that all you need is a cup and a paper towel.