The case for greater focus on mosquitoes, ticks in epidemiology

From Science Daily
August 2, 2018

The textbook approach to managing disease outbreaks focuses on three factors — pathogen, host, and environment — but it leaves out one critical component in the case of afflictions such as Zika, malaria, and Lyme: the insect or arthropod responsible for transmission to humans. A new report proposes a new version of the classic ‘epidemiologic triad’ that better reflects the complexities of managing vector-borne diseases.

The emergence of the mosquito-borne Zika virus captured the world’s attention in 2016, and likewise the continued rise of tick-borne Lyme disease in the United States has highlighted the need for robust response capabilities to vector-borne disease. The classic “epidemiologic triad,” however, is due for a revision in the case of infections spread primarily by insects and related arthropods, and a new report in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America proposes a new version that better reflects the complexities of managing vector-borne diseases.

“Rather than focusing on managing diseases at the host or pathogen level, we suggest the focus should be at the environmental and vector levels, an approach known as integrated vector management, or IVM,” says Natalia Cernicchiaro, DVM, MS, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology at Kansas State University and senior author on the report. “Management strategies applied at these levels tend to be more sustainable and effective.”

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