MOSQUITO CONTROL ISN’T ‘SEXY SCIENCE’
Zika, chikungunya, and dengue viruses are all now circulating in Brazil. They cause similar symptoms, complicating clinical identification during outbreaks. And no treatments or vaccines exist for any of the three viruses, making mosquito control vital.
“Mosquito control is not considered ‘sexy’ science, like developing a new drug or a vaccine,” Kitron says, “but more attention and resources need to be devoted to it.”
Aedes aegypti are like “the roaches” of the mosquito world, perfectly adapted to living with humans, especially in urban environments, says disease ecologist Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec, who specializes in spatial analysis of disease transmission patterns and has several research projects for dengue fever ongoing in Latin America.
While mosquitoes that carry malaria only feed during the evening, the Aedes aegypti feeds almost exclusively on humans and bites primarily during the daytime.
“Killing mosquitoes is labor-intensive and expensive if you do it well, and it can be difficult to get funding for it,” Vazquez-Prokopec says. “Now we have three viruses—dengue, chikungunya, and Zika—being spread by Aedes aegypti, so that greatly increases the cost-effectiveness of doing high-quality, thorough mosquito control.”
Featured Photo Credit: Aedes aegypti by James Gathany/CDC
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