Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - Minnesotans often like to brag that one of the benefits of enduring the states miserable winters is the bitter cold can help keep a number of nasty critters at bay. With the headlines filled with stories about the spread of the Zika virus in warmer regions of the globe, can we assume that our frigid fortress will also prevent the infection from spreading this far north?

photo courtesy Mayo Clinic

That was the question posed to Mayo Clinic infectious disease expert Dr. Pritish Tosh, and his answer was less than reassuring. Dr. Tosh simply stated that “it depends.” He says, so far, the widespread transmission of the Zika virus has been occurring in Central and South America, but he also noted there has been evidence of the spread of the infection in Puerto Rico.

The specific type of mosquito that is blamed for infecting humans with the virus is not the type of mosquito that most commonly interrupts our picnics and pleasant summer evenings in Minnesota, but Dr. Tosh says there are no guarantees the virus won’t be carried by our kind of mosquito or that the type of mosquito carrying the virus won’t eventually invade Minnesota. It’s currently prevalent across much of the southern U.S.

He says the key to curbing the spread of Zika is controlling mosquito populations and taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites while researchers continue their efforts to develop an effective vaccine.