Education, Mosquito Management Programs, and Cooperation Needed to Stop Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya

The Entomological Society of America (ESA) and Sociedade Entomológica do Brasil (SEB) held a Summit in Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil on 13 March, 2016 to discuss the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the primary transmitter of Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever.

While the Summit featured talks on many aspects of mosquito biology, behavior, and control, the experts agreed that the most critical needs for controlling the mosquito and the diseases are:

1) Connecting scientists to communities more effectively through public awareness campaigns on how people can protect themselves from mosquitoes, and educational efforts to dispel misinformation regarding insect control measures.

2) Establishing mosquito control programs as a critical element of the campaign against Aedes aegypti, in addition to the important work already being done by the medical community on disease management. Prioritizing mosquito control would include funding for integrating well-established and novel control technologies as well as improving the collection and dissemination of data on mosquito populations and the efficacy of control measures.

3) Creating a coalition of international mosquito-control-related organizations to advocate for vector control as a critical element against Aedes aegypti and the diseases it transmits.

Aedes aegypti is a container-breeding mosquito that is mostly problematic in municipalities, including urban centers.

“This is a pest that we know how to control — we just need to do it,” said Dr. Luciano Moreira, a principal researcher at Fiocruz in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and a co-chair of the Summit. “Spreading the word about how all people have a role to play will be critical to success.”

“This mosquito had been the target of an international eradication effort in the Americas that had largely been successful,” said Dr. Grayson Brown (University of Kentucky), the other co-chair of the Summit. “However, as the mosquito population declined to very low levels, eradication efforts were abandoned and the mosquito resurged. As it did, human disease reappeared and the pathogens vectored by this mosquito exploded soon thereafter.”

The Summit is part of the ESA’s Grand Challenges Initiative, which addresses areas where the entomological sciences can impact problems of global importance. A second Summit is planned during the International Congress of Entomology in Orlando, Florida on September 21, 2016.

To learn about the key findings from the Summit, including recommended actions and critical research needs, please visit https://entomologychallenges.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/outcome-statement-final.pdf.

To learn more about the Summit on the Aedes aegypti Crisis in the Americas, please visit http://entomologychallenges.org/grand-challenges-summit-on-aedes-aegypti-mosquito-in-brazil.

To learn more about the ESA’s Grand Challenges Initiative, please visit http://entomologychallenges.org.

The Entomological Society of America, co-host of the Summit, is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has more than 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, and hobbyists. For more information, visit http://www.entsoc.org.

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