Project

Aedes aegypti in urban desert environments

Goal: Urban development in the Southwestern United States has enabled Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to survive in otherwise hostile desert environments. This project seeks to understand the specific mechanisms that contribute to Aedes aegypti survival/abundance, and thereby increase human residents' susceptibility to outbreaks of diseases like Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. We also aim to evaluate the effects of various vector control strategies on mosquito abundance and longevity in this setting.

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Project log

Kacey C Ernst
added a research item
Dengue is an acute febrile illness caused by any of four dengue virus types (DENV-1-4). DENVs are transmitted by mosquitos of the genus Aedes (1) and are endemic throughout the tropics (2). In 2010, an estimated 390 million DENV infections occurred worldwide (2). During 2007-2013, a total of three to 10 dengue cases were reported annually in Arizona and all were travel-associated. During September-December 2014, coincident with a dengue outbreak in Sonora, Mexico, 93 travel-associated dengue cases were reported in Arizona residents; 70 (75%) cases were among residents of Yuma County, which borders San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora, Mexico. San Luis Río Colorado reported its first case of locally acquired dengue in September 2014. To investigate the temporal relationship of the dengue outbreaks in Yuma County and San Luis Río Colorado and compare patient characteristics and signs and symptoms, passive surveillance data from both locations were analyzed. In addition, household-based cluster investigations were conducted near the residences of reported dengue cases in Yuma County to identify unreported cases and assess risk for local transmission. Surveillance data identified 52 locally acquired cases (21% hospitalized) in San Luis Río Colorado and 70 travel-associated cases (66% hospitalized) in Yuma County with illness onset during September-December 2014. Among 194 persons who participated in the cluster investigations in Yuma County, 152 (78%) traveled to Mexico at least monthly during the preceding 3 months. Four (2%) of 161 Yuma County residents who provided serum samples for diagnostic testing during cluster investigations had detectable DENV immunoglobulin M (IgM); one reported a recent febrile illness, and all four had traveled to Mexico during the preceding 3 months. Entomologic assessments among 105 households revealed 24 water containers per 100 houses colonized by Ae. aegypti. Frequent travel to Mexico and Ae. aegypti colonization indicate risk for local transmission of DENV in Yuma County. Public health officials in Sonora and Arizona should continue to collaborate on dengue surveillance and educate the public regarding mosquito abatement and avoidance practices. Clinicians evaluating patients from the U.S.-Mexico border region should consider dengue in patients with acute febrile illness and report suspected cases to public health authorities.
Jenna Coalson
added a project goal
Urban development in the Southwestern United States has enabled Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to survive in otherwise hostile desert environments. This project seeks to understand the specific mechanisms that contribute to Aedes aegypti survival/abundance, and thereby increase human residents' susceptibility to outbreaks of diseases like Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. We also aim to evaluate the effects of various vector control strategies on mosquito abundance and longevity in this setting.