In a way, our agency has been working to control vector-borne diseases from day one.
When Texas A&M AgriLife Research — previously known as the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station —was established in 1887, a mysterious disease was ravaging cattle throughout the country. “Texas fever” had spread from Texas to other states and was killing so many cattle that Kansas prohibited the driving of Texas cattle through its borders.
(Texas was no stranger to vector-borne diseases in humans, either. A terrible outbreak of yellow fever killed 80 people in Millican in 1867. Large numbers of the town’s remaining residents moved to Bryan.)
Helping to bring an end to Texas tick fever was Dr. Mark Francis, then a veterinarian at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and a professor at the A&M College of Texas. Dr. Francis helped eradicate the cattle fever tick and developed a new way to inoculate cattle against the disease-causing pathogen.
Today, the scope of our work may be broader, but the work is just as important and pioneering.
The funding granted to us by the 84th Texas Legislative Session will help us find innovative ways to solve problems caused by Zika and other vector-borne diseases. It will help provide support to graduate students and faculty, bring in new experts, and upgrade equipment and facilities.
We are working to develop vaccines, improve detection methods, and prevent epidemics. AgriLife Research has been investing in this area for a long time, and it will be a focus of our research for many years to come.