Entomological summit on managing the Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito calls for education, funding, and collaboration

culex larvae

17 March, 2016 (Maceió, Brazil) — 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 research and implementation knowledge gaps in current approaches to handling the Aedes aegypti crisis in the Americas. The one-day meeting brought together more than 60 researchers, public health officials, entomologists, vector control experts, and representatives from NGOs and other agencies for a day of plenary talks, breakout sessions, panels discussions, and other presentations on the topic of establishing a sustainable and effective level of control for Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito, which is known to carry dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and more recently the Zika virus.

The primary objective of the Summit was to convene many of the key knowledge leaders involved with the research and control of this insect and identify immediate steps to create long-term and sustainable solutions.

While the Summit featured talks on many aspects of mosquito biology, behavior, and control, two specific outcomes highlight what experts see as the most critical actions to tackling the challenges presented by this parasite.

  • Finding ways to connect science to communities more effectively through public awareness campaigns on how people can protect themselves from mosquitoes, as well as education efforts to dispel misinformation regarding insect control measures.
  • Seeking a unified voice supporting vector control as a critical element of the campaign against Aedes aegypti, in addition to the important work being done by the medical community on disease management. Prioritizing vector 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.

Aedes aegypti, also known as the yellowfever mosquito, is a peridomestic container-breeding pest. This mosquito is mostly problematic in municipalities, often in urban centers with established mosquito management programs, yet they still continue to transmit disease. The problem is that few cities support best practices in mosquito management and often haphazardly and/or incompletely control mosquitoes. The protocol and best practices of mosquito control are well known – they’re just not being utilized.

“This is a pest that we know how to control – we just need to do it,” says 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.”

Dr. Grayson Brown, co-chair of the Summit and professor of entomology at the University of Kentucky agrees and added, “This mosquito had been the target of an international eradication effort in the Americas that had largely been successful. 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 seeks areas where the entomological sciences can impact problems of global importance. A second Summit is planned during the International Congress of Entomology, hosted by ESA, at Orlando, FL (USA) on September 21, 2016.

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.