VECTOR-BORNE DISEASES: A global dashboard to track mosquitoes

Each year, mosquitoes cause nearly 700 million infections and more than one million deaths, making mosquitoes the deadliest vector on Earth. Since only certain species of mosquitoes transmit disease, careful surveillance and accurate identification are essential in the fight against these vector-borne diseases, especially in view of the lack of vaccines and cures. The dashboard therefore aims to help researchers, mosquito control teams and decision-makers to detect these disease vectors early.

Real-time, global surveillance of mosquito-borne diseases

This initiative is being continued as part of a large-scale project to establish global surveillance of mosquito-borne diseases with automated mosquito identification. The dashboard combines data from 3 partner apps: Mosquito Alert, GLOBE Observe from NASA and iNaturalist. Each of these applications uses “citizen science”, meaning that all citizens of the world can contribute information and photos of mosquitoes using their smartphones.

A community-powered global dashboard

These combined international citizen contributions will therefore feed this dashboard, accessible via mobile and allowing the consolidation of data at a frequency and geographical resolution otherwise impossible due to costs and other constraints.

“This dashboard represents a reunification of global citizen science platforms for mosquito surveillance and control” summarizes lead author Ryan Carney, professor of integrative biology: “The tool should help scientists and mosquito vector control experts find and destroy invasive species and monitor these disease vectors internationally.”

To test the effectiveness of this citizen science powered dashboard principle,

the USF team enlisted citizen scientists to locate possible vectors and these early efforts resulted in the first iNaturalist sightings in the United States of Aedes scapularis, an invasive species that causes yellow fever. These data, shared with local officials, have made it possible to strengthen surveillance in Florida, a state recently invaded by the species. Accurate species recognition algorithms have already been developed to recognize and detect critical vectors.

These algorithms will soon be tested throughout a new campaign that has just been launched in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to track the invasive vector of malaria, Anopheles stephensi, in Africa.

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