Wichita State students win prize for proposal to fight Zika virus

Wichita State students' innovative Zika approach

(Video courtesy of LaRissa Lawrie and Hannah Hund)
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(Video courtesy of LaRissa Lawrie and Hannah Hund)

Two Wichita State students were recognized for their innovative approach to fighting the Zika virus at a conference this month at Texas A&M.

LaRissa Lawrie and Hannah Hund were part of a team that designed rain barrels with information printed on them about how to fight the Zika virus. One of the challenges to fighting the virus is getting information to indigent communities in a way that is visible and will last.

Lawrie and Hund’s group designed the rain barrels with health information communicated as pictures so that they would work in any language. Rain barrels are an important way to collect water in many communities where the virus has grown, so the information on them would likely be visible and persist for a long time.

They’re also relatively cheap.

The rain barrels are also a potential breeding ground for the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus, so the pictures would provide reminders in a timely way when people are likely to use them.

The team’s design is one of three from the conference that is being considered by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta for further consideration.

The Zika virus has led to thousands of birth defects in places like Brazil and has recently spread into Florida. Although its full impacts aren’t known, the virus can increase the chances that pregnant women give birth to babies with deformities.

Congress has not passed any special funding to fight the Zika virus although the Obama administration has redirected some limited funding to Zika prevention efforts.

Oliver Morrison: 316-268-6499, @ORMorrison