Graduate students at the University of North Texas are at the front lines of the battle against the West Nile virus.
They're testing mosquitoes for the disease that has already affected dozens of North Texans this year and now, they're tracking possible Zika-carrying mosquitoes.
"It's probably a given that Zika is going to get here sometime. No idea when that is going to happen, but it’s already established in Florida and no doubt it’ll do that here," said James Kennedy, Regents Professor and Director of the Elm Fork Education Center and Natural Heritage Museum.
Students in the West Nile laboratory have been monitoring mosquitoes in Denton for 12 years, monitoring movement of West Nile virus and mosquito populations.
The UNT/City of Denton partnership was the first to discover local West Nile virus carrying mosquitoes in North Texas.
"At that particular time, no one in this area was really doing any work with mosquitoes," Kennedy said.
Now, any mosquito students send to the state lab in Austin is tested for the Zika virus.
"We are that front line. We are going to be the people that are going to be the canary in the wind to warn people that Zika is here and now it’s not only in humans, but also in our mosquito population," said Kennedy.