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Mapping habitats for vectors of infectious disease: VECMAP

Conference Paper

Mapping habitats for vectors of infectious disease: VECMAP

Abstract

Vector-borne diseases such as Malaria, Chikungunya, Dengue and West Nile are a persistent public health concern. International trade and travel. as well as changing environmental conditions favours colonisation of new areas by foreign (especially arthropod) species. Some of these species transmit diseases to human, and so their spread represents a significant health risk which needs to be quantified and mapped to facilitate strategic preparedness. VECMAP is a project of the European Space Agency's Integrated Application Promotion program (IAP). Based on needs expressed by national public health agencies and regional mosquito controllers a consortium led by Avia-GIS is developing a service for predicting potential mosquito-related health risks (early warning) and for reducing nuisance (targeted control effort). VECMAP enhances and simplifies traditional mathematical distribution modelling, field and laboratory work with the help of Satellite Navigation and Earth Observation.). Though VECMAP's focus has so far been on mosquitoes, other vectors such as ticks, midges and rodents are now being considered Prediction of vector distributions and associated risks is a challenge. It requires elaborate statistical simulations to be steadily fed with observations. To this end mosquito vectors are first sampled to make preliminary maps of vector presence. Using geo-referencing techniques and mobile communication technologies, the field data are automatically fed into the VECMAP distribution modelling tools, which use space imagery (processed to extract vegetation, weather data, proximity of water bodies, land use) to predict the presence of the vector throughout a project area, which may then be related to health risk or nuisance levels.. The VECMAP system optimises the sampling regime, ensures that state of the art modelling tools are used, and provides updated EO imagery to support the modelling. The system also provides expert assistance to clients where needed and acts as a secure data archive for the inputs and outputs. Using VECMAP's integrated systems and services significantly reduces the resources needed to implement existing programmes, and with its automated methodologies and comprehensive supporting services makes advanced techniques more widely available than has hitherto been the case. The results of the VECMAP feasibility study and prototype demonstration system indicate that the amount of field work can be greatly reduced by exploiting capabilities of satellites. A pre-operational service will therefore now be developed and implemented.
IAC-11-B5.1.10
Mapping habitats for vectors of infectious disease: VECMAP
Dr. Michiel Kruijff
SERCO/ESA, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, michiel.kruijff@esa.int
Dr. Guy Hendrickx
Avia-GIS, Zoersel, Belgium, ghendrickx@avia-gis.be
Dr. William Wint
Envirnmental Research Group (ERGO), Oxford, UK, william.wint@zoo.ox.ac.uk
Prof. Amnon Ginati
European Space Agency (ESA), Noordwijk, The Netherlands, amnon.ginati@esa.int
Vector-borne diseases such as Malaria, Chikungunya, Dengue and West Nile are a persistent public health
concern. International trade and travel. as well as changing environmental conditions favours colonisation of new
areas by foreign (especially arthropod) species. Some of these species transmit diseases to human, and so their spread
represents a significant health risk which needs to be quantified and mapped to facilitate strategic preparedness.
VECMAP is a project of the European Space Agency’s Integrated Application Promotion program (IAP). Based on
needs expressed by national public health agencies and regional mosquito controllers a consortium led by Avia-GIS
is developing a service for predicting potential mosquito-related health risks (early warning) and for reducing
nuisance (targeted control effort). VECMAP enhances and simplifies traditional mathematical distribution
modelling, field and laboratory work with the help of Satellite Navigation and Earth Observation. ). Though
VECMAP's focus has so far been on mosquitoes, other vectors such as ticks, midges and rodents are now being
considered
Prediction of vector distributions and associated risks is a challenge. It requires elaborate statistical simulations to
be steadily fed with observations. To this end mosquito vectors are first sampled to make preliminary maps of vector
presence. Using geo-referencing techniques and mobile communication technologies, the field data are automatically
fed into the VECMAP distribution modelling tools, which use space imagery (processed to extract vegetation,
weather data, proximity of water bodies, land use) to predict the presence of the vector throughout a project area,
which may then be related to health risk or nuisance levels..
The VECMAP system optimises the sampling regime, ensures that state of the art modelling tools are used, and
provides updated EO imagery to support the modelling. The system also provides expert assistance to clients where
needed and acts as a secure data archive for the inputs and outputs.
Using VECMAP’s integrated systems and services significantly reduces the resources needed to implement
existing programmes, and with its automated methodologies and comprehensive supporting services makes advanced
techniques more widely available than has hitherto been the case.
The results of the VECMAP feasibility study and prototype demonstration system indicate that the amount of
field work can be greatly reduced by exploiting capabilities of satellites. A pre-operational service will therefore now
be developed and implemented.
I. VECMAP AND ESA’S INTEGRATED
APPLICATIONS PROGRAMME
I.1 ESA and IAP (ARTES 20)
The European Space Agency (ESA)'s Agenda 2011
contains a key objective: "Development and Promotion
of integrated applications (space & non-space) and
integration of security in the European Space Policy.
New concepts, new capabilities and a new culture have
to be developed in order to respond to a multitude of
needs from users who are not yet familiar with space
systems." Responding to this objective are the Integrated
Applications Programme (IAP), also known as ESA’s
ARTES 20 element (user-driven applications), as well
as the ARTES 3-4 Telecommunications Applications
element (product-driven applications). These elements
are dedicated to development, implementation and pilot
operations, utilising not only Telecommunications
satellites, but also combining the use of different types
of space assets, including Earth Observation and
Navigation, as well as Human Spaceflight technologies.
The overall goal of the IAP program is the "the
development of operational services for a wide range of
users through the combination of different systems".
The goal is to incubate sustainable services to the
benefit of society that obtain their added value from the
innovative integration of existing terrestrial
technologies with space assets, such as
Telecommunications, Earth Observation, Navigation,
and Human Spaceflight technologies. “Sustainable
here means: triggered by, responsive to and sustained by
real user demand, while taking into account financial
(e.g. commercial) and non-financial (e.g. environmental,
legal, adoptability) constraints. The provision of
commercial services (rather than of mere products) is
seen as a key outcome - one that offers flexibility and
increases sustainability of demand, supply, and
indirectly, up the value chain, also of space assets. In
this way, “our satellites help to do better the daily work
of society”.
Such services are to be incubated through two steps
or levels of ESA IAP activities:
1. Basic activities, which aim at generating,
assessing and studying ideas for projects. Feasibility
Studies provide the preparatory framework to identify,
analyse and define new potentially sustainable
activities.
2. Demonstration activities which aim at
development and demonstration of the novel services
identified in the first element, until an operational
maturity is achieved that is satisfactory to the users.
IAP activities cover a wide range of themes,
including Health, Transport, Energy, Development,
Safety, Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries.
I.2 Space for Health
Typical Space for Health activities fall within the
IAP Health Theme and use Earth Observation, Satellite
Navigation, Satellite Communication assets as well as
Human Space Flight technologies derived from
astronaut health and telemedicine aspects and
technologies related to autonomous habitat operations
(Figure 1, http://iap.esa.int), for example in the context
of:
Field data collection
Vector and disease risk mapping
Early warning & emergency response
eHealth and Telemedicine
Integration/centralized data & analysis
Figure1.SomeSpaceforHealthprojectsofIAPandthe
involved space assets. Telemedicine here is referring
totherelevantHumanSpaceFlighttechnologies.
HEWS (Health Early Warning System) focused on
the use of SatCom to deal with acute disease outbreaks
(Anthrax attack, hemorrhagic (Marburg) fever
outbreak), to Connect local health professionals with
provincial authorities using satellite phones in the field,
and VSAT/BGAN terminals in coordination centers.
SAFE (SAtellites For Epidemiology) demonstrated
the use of SatCom (VSAT) for internet & tele-
conferencing (local Wifi), and included electronic
surveillance & GIS integration, as well as on-site
biological analysis. An operational service has been
established in Georgia for tuberculosis surveillance.
A water quality monitoring pilot study has been
performed for Lake Manzalah, Egypt, combining in-situ
measurements and EO data, with the aim to improved
resource management.
PREDICT (Prevent and Respond to Epidemics and
Demonstrate Information and Communication
Technologies) is an ongoing study with Direction des
services vétérinaires (DSV) in Senegal to monitor and
collect data of a network of veterinary stations,
including inspection teams with mobile SatCom.
Vegetation and water bodies are also monitored via
Earth Observation and all data is collected and
represented in a central dBase plus GIS.
Amazon is a high-end terminal developed for remote
diagnosis and first aid application, now commercially
available.
T4MOD (Telemedicine for Ministries of Defense) is
a SatCom based telemedicine solution providing
teleconferencing capability in support of life-saving and
other critical medical procedures.
eHealth in Subsaharan Africa (eHSA) is a recently
initiated program of 4 studies in 4 thematic areas
(Governance, Regulations, Interoperability,
Sustainability) across the themes of eCare, eLearning,
eSurveillance, eGovernance, funded by Lux
Development (European Investment Bank) and run by
ESA IAP.
The VECMAP project focuses on the use of space
assets to quantify and map disease vector distributions
as an important determinant of disease risk. It has
completed the Feasibility Study and has now entered the
Demonstration Project phase.
II. VECTOR MAPPING
II.1 Background
Vector-borne diseases (i.e. diseases carried by
vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks or birds and
transmitted to humans by biting or physical contact) are
an increasing concern to public health bodies in many
European countries. Amongst others, West Nile Fever,
Chikungunya, Dengue and Tick-Borne Encephalitis are
examples of vector-borne diseases that are now present
in Europe and whose health related and economic
impact is or could be significant. Vectors and vector
borne diseases are usually only prevalent in certain
specific environments. However, the combination of
increased travel and trade with the ongoing global
environmental change creates suitable conditions for the
spread or (re-)emergence of vector-borne diseases in
areas where the risk is or was low. Europe must
anticipate, prevent and control new emergences to avoid
major societal and economical crises such as the recent
outbreaks of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome) in Asia and West Nile Fever in the USA.
A recent study of the European Centre for Disease
Prevention and Control (ECDC)
1
observes: “Every year
millions of people around the world including in Europe
are affected by vector-borne diseases, the symptoms and
severity of which are variable. For example,
Chikungunya virus is transmitted from human to human
by Aedes mosquitoes, such as the Aedes albopictus
(Asian Tiger mosquito). While Chikungunya fever is
usually non-fatal, a small number of patients may
develop serious complications or chronic conditions. A
huge epidemic has been striking Africa, the Indian
Ocean and India over the last 3 years, with millions of
cases. The 2007 outbreak of Chikungunya fever in
Ravenna district, Italy was the first documented
transmission of the virus on the European continent”.
It comes to the conclusion that “The climate and
environmental changes being predicted by experts will
alter the risk to Europe from vector borne diseases. We
are likely to see the spread of diseases such as tick-
borne encephalitis, or even Chikungunya fever, to
places where they have not been seen before. […] We
need to better understand how these changes will alter
the risk of vector-borne diseases, to better target
surveillance and control, and improve preparedness in
European countries.
II.2 Epidemiological community and technological
heritage in vector mapping
The European epidemiological community consists
of approximately 300 public health and academic
entities, that are connected through participation in a
number of research, development and epidemiology
network activities (2).
These networks operate so far on a mostly European
scale to map the presence and absence of vectors,
integrating a wide variety of high level data sources
providing datapoints at the resolution of municipalities
and regions. A prediction map for Europe based on this
rather limited, unstandardized and often inaccessible set
of entomological data has been produced within the
ECDC TigerMaps project
2
for the Aedes albopictus or
tiger mosquito (responsible for e.g. spread of
Chikungunya). A similar activity has been completed
for the European risk mapping of Dengue.
In contrast to this European-wide low-resolution
mapping for strategic purposes, the Belgian national
research project Modirisk
3
is an R&D project that has
laid the ground work for a methodology to create a
presence/distribution map at regional/national level
(Figure 3) based on land use analysis and in-situ
sam
pling of mosquitoes, covering Belgium and the
Netherlands.
EDENFP6
EDENFP6
EDENext FP7
EDENext FP7
MODIRISKBels po
MODIRISKBelsp o
Belgium
TheNetherlands
Luxemburg
Belgium
TheNetherla nds
Luxemburg
VBORNETECDC
VBORNETECDC
Vborne ECD C
Vborne ECDC
TIGERMAPSECDC
TIGERMAPSECDC
E3ECDC
E3ECDC
DMT3ECDC
DM T3 ECDC
EPOC3ECDC
EPOC3ECDC
VECMAPESA
VECMAPESA
EDENFP6
EDENFP6
EDENext FP7
EDENext FP7
MODIRISKBels po
MODIRISKBelsp o
Belgium
TheNetherlands
Luxemburg
Belgium
TheNetherla nds
Luxemburg
VBORNETECDC
VBORNETECDC
Vborne ECD C
Vborne ECDC
TIGERMAPSECDC
TIGERMAPSECDC
E3ECDC
E3ECDC
DMT3ECDC
DM T3 ECDC
EPOC3ECDC
EPOC3ECDC
VECMAPESA
VECMAPESA
Figure2.VectorMappingactivitiesinEurope
Figure 3. Examples of elements for vector mapping:
Modirisk result in Belgium, field data collection via
smartphoneandamosquitotrapforsampling.
In a more operational sense, a surveillance network
is being maintained in Emilia-Romagna (Italy) to keep
the population of vectors below critical thresholds (see
e.g. 9).
The predictive mosquito distribution models that
have been developed in these projects need to be
periodically validated by field-data because mosquito
populations are dynamic and because land use and land
cover change over time, which may cause shifts in high
risk areas. The risks of introductions and/or spread of
vectors and/or vector-borne pathogens may also change
with time. Therefore, long-term monitoring of mosquito
populations is required for a sustainable use of the
methodology.
These projects are however so far mostly one-off
exercises, relying on institutional funding and using
tools and methodologies only available on an ad hoc
basis. An integrated, consistent and standardized end-to-
end map production chain covering a broad range of
geographical areas does not yet exist.
II.3 Space assets for vector mapping
Space assets have proven to be useful to understand
the dynamics of vectors and vector borne diseases (i.e.
how they emerge and spread) and ultimately to help
forecast the areas at risk for infections today and in the
future.
ESA already carried out a preliminary study on the
use of EO data for epidemiology concerns between
2003 and 2006 within the Epidemio project (ESA
contract number 17809/03/I-LG
4
) of the Data User
Element (DUE) of ESA’s Earth Observation Envelope
Programme.
Based on the above, ESA, in collaboration with the
European Commission (EC) Directorate General for
Health and Consumers (DG SANCO), CNES and the
partners of the EC FP6 project EDEN organised in
October 2007 a workshop on ‘Operational Risk Maps
for Communicable Diseases using Integrated Space and
Non space Assets’
5
. Several key stakeholders and
potential users attended the event and acknowledged the
interest of space for developing disease risk maps and
disease vector maps. It was recommended to further
investigate the area and to pursue the development of
operational services for diseases (especially tick-borne
encephalitis and bluetongue) and disease vectors
(especially mosquitoes).
Following this recommendation, ESA organized a
workshop dedicated to space and mosquito as a vector
of diseases in October 2008
6
mainly aimed at:
understanding the need related to mosquitoes
mapping in Europe
federating users that can contribute to maps
and end users that need the maps
understanding which solutions can be
envisaged using space elements for developing these
maps and the added value of space
establishing with users and potential providers
of these solutions the feasibility and sustainability of a
service providing an end-to-end solution
Overall, several potential end users from 6 European
countries (UK, F, I, CH, NL, B) attended and clearly
acknowledged the need for:
Predictive mapping: to determine (1) the
distribution of mosquito species in Europe especially in
areas where surveillance does not exist, and (2) the risk
for establishment/presence of these species to help
anticipate potential outbreaks or to identify new risk
areas.
GIS: to optimize the sampling strategy and the
work of field inspectors and therefore contribute to
improve current surveillance networks or help
developing those networks where they are needed.
The role of space assets to answer the above needs
was discussed and recognised. R&D projects like
Modirisk and TigerMaps as well as the surveillance
network in Emilia-Romagna (Italy) are good examples
of activities where space tools are already used (satellite
navigation/ positioning and earth observation):
Satellite navigation/positioning is used in
some of these activities (e.g. in Emilia-Romagna) for
geo-localising in situ data, e.g. mosquito traps or
location of disease cases, as well as for field
inspectors/teams to locate/control the areas at risk and
for accurate follow-up of control operations.
Earth observation provides data on the
environmental factors that influence the emergence or
the spread of the vectors or diseases (e.g. soil moisture,
surface temperature, vegetation, land use) to be used in
distribution models (Low-Resolution Remote Sensing
for eco-climatic envelope, High-Resolution Remote-
Sensing for landscape and habitat).
Figure 4.Prediction for habitat suitability for Ae.
albopictus,thetigermosquito.
After these two workshops and several
consultations with users and experts, the idea of an end-
to-end system and associated service aimed at mapping
and surveillance of mosquitoes was selected as a
candidate for an IAP feasibility study, in order to
resolve some remaining open issues:
The feasibility of providing the right
information that users (i.e. public health authorities and
epidemiologists) require had to be proven.
The viability of the system and associated
service had to be assessed.
The added value of space assets had to be
clearly demonstrated.
II.4 The VECMAP Project
The objective of IAP’s VECMAP Feasibility Study
(completed May 2011) has thus been the assessment of
the technical and economic feasibility of the utilisation
of space assets (so far primarily Earth Observation and
Satellite Navigation) in a landscape and
regional/national mapping service for presence and
abundance of disease vectors, by seamlessly integrating
data from terrestrial (in-situ) and space-based sources,
and providing a more efficient, more effective and more
standardized mapping methodology.
VECMAP is so far the only development aiming at a
sustainable service provision in the domain of disease
vector mapping in Europe. The sustainability is to be
achieved through a self-supportive, commercially viable
scheme.
As the VECMAP Feasibility Study has held a local,
regional and national application target, it inherits its
sampling methodology know-how mostly from the
Modirisk project, whereas mapping and geospatial
prediction technologies have been based on a broader
heritage employing well established, if complex,
modelling techniques and including the TigerMaps
experience and Avia-GIS Vet-geotools GIS system).
The Feasibility Study has resulted in:
- a concept of a system and its associated service,
providing predictive risk maps and GIS for mosquito
surveillance, control and study in the European Union
for industrial, public health and academic users,
integrating space assets (Earth Observation data and
Satellite Navigation) and tailored to the users selected in
the frame of this study,
- a prototyping of all critical technologies and an
assessment of the system and its associated service,
including its added value with the users and the added
value of the space assets,
- an assessment of the viability and
commercialisation of the system and its associated
service,
- the ingredients required to plan a demonstration
project including the involvement and co-funding of a
significant, diverse and representative group of users for
the development phase.
A Demonstration Project has now been initiated
(Sept. 2011) that aims to develop and demonstrate, to
the involved users, a sustainable service in a pre-
operational setting (i.e. finally achieving an operational
and commercial service offering). This Demo is to
cover three subsequent vector seasons. Although the
Feasibility Study has focussed on the mapping of
mosquito species presence in Europe, the Demo Project
extends the topical scope beyond Europe and includes
other vectors such as ticks. Also the range of services is
extended, to include hi-res (landscape) mapping.
II.5 The VECMAP Study Team
The Feasibility Study team (Figure 5) consisted of:
Avi
a-GIS (B), a company (SME) that specializes in
the collection, processing and analysis of spatial
information and the development of data driven
space-time information systems with particular
reference to animal health, agriculture, public
health and the environment. Avia-GIS will lead the
project and is in charge of the development,
integration and commercialisation of the solution as
the future service provider. They are also
responsible for the VECMAP database, sampling
tools and information system components.
ERGO (UK), an SME in collaboration with the
TALA (UK) research group from the Zoology
Department of Oxford University, responsible for
the area-wide distribution modelling components
and the Earth-Observation time series processing.
This group have been involved in developing and
deploying statistical distribution modelling research
and for more than twenty years.
MEDES (F), responsible for developing smart
phone utilities (palm-to-web), including the use of
Satellite Navigation systems. They carry out
activities in the field of telemedicine,
epidemiology, clinical research and activities or
research.
Processed Earth Observation data suppliers: EARS
(NL) and VITO (B).
User coordinator: RIVM (NL).
Figure5.VECMAPteamatMidTermReviewatthesite
ofuserEIDMediterranee.
Ten European user organizations were involved in
the VECMAP study, broadly spanning three categories
(Figure 6):
Indus
trial (pest control): CAA (I), EID
Mediterranee (F), CMV (NL);
Public health (advice and decision making):
RIVM (NL), IPH (B), and
Academic (R&D): ITM (B), UZH (CH), CIRAD
(F), CVI (NL) and CEH (UK).
Most of these users are participating in the Demo
Project as well. Five additional users have joined
(Figure 7). Together they will cover the demonstration
o
f the VECMAP services in a pre-operational setting,
covering applications such as distribution (for planning)
and landscape mapping (for control) of a variety of
mosquito species, incl. vectors and nuisance species,
(Aedes albopictus, Ae. vexans, Ae. caspius, Ae. detritus,
culex pipiens), ticks and other vectors (such as rodents),
as well as surveillance of diseases (veterinary diseases,
West Nile virus, Chikungunya), see Error! Reference
source not found. & Figure 8.
Figure 6. Geographical spread of VECMAP Feasibility
Studyusers
Figure 7. Geographical spread of VECMAP Demo
Projects.
Figure 8. Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and
geographicalspread(orange)
III. VECMAP STUDY RESULTS
III.1 User groups
During the VECMAP Feasibility Study, three major
user communities have been identified and
characterized with respect to a potential VECMAP
service.
The Public Health Users: including public health
agencies, international and non-governmental
organizations. Geared to develop Public Health
intervention plans, they are mainly interested in vector
distribution mapping, to monitor current and future
vector species distributions at a country level or above,
for strategic planning, prioritization and decision
making. They have a firm biological background but
need support to plan field operations, maintain the
database, conduct data analysis, and represent results.
The Industrial Users: private or public pest control
companies and companies interested in spatial risk maps
such as commercial Public Health websites, insurance
and the real estate sector. They are primarily interested
in vector control to reduce nuisance or disease risk and
wish keep species causing nuisance or health risks
below critical thresholds. They are in regular need of
risk assessment and abundance maps that can be directly
applied to plan control activities or for other commercial
purposes. They need to concentrate their efforts on the
right places at the right time to optimise control efforts.
The Academic Users: These research-oriented users
are, like the Public Health users, mainly interested in
vector distribution mapping. The Academic User
community is also regarded as well-connected and a key
channel for obtaining broad acceptance of the
VECMAP services being developed. They are typically
well-informed and broadly capable. They currently
often use dedicated ad-hoc tools to perform the full
range of described activities, based on in-house
expertise in biology, geographic information systems
(GIS) and ICT.
Several representatives of each these three communities
has been involved in the VECMAP Feasibility Study in
form of two user-workshops, a technical proof of
concept of the VECMAP system prototype, various
review meetings and a number of questionnaires
addressing user needs and requirements, concept
validation, market and pricing aspects (e.g. Figure 5,
Figure9).
III.2 General challenges to vector mapping
The two main applications for vector mapping are
driven by the public health authorities and the pest
controllers user groups. In practice, both authorities and
controllers need predictive maps, to know the type of
mosquitoes, their current and future location, and when
their population will peak. To develop mosquito
presence/distribution and prediction maps, historical and
spatial entomological data are required (i.e. information
on mosquito populations: how many and which
mosquito species are occurring when and where) to feed
suitable predictive models. Neither of these two
components are readily available or trivial to obtain:
1. Mosquito sampling related challenges
Mosquito sampling is typically needed in a large
number of field locations. Each disease is associated
with specific vectors, and each vector with its particular
environmental and meteorological conditions. Initially a
nationwide or regional cross-sectional sampling should
be performed, and followed by sustained monitoring
using longitudinal sampling in a reduced set of
specifically selected sites. In-situ field sampling
activities are labour intensive and therefore expensive.
Such information is therefore scarce and scattered:
indeed some European countries have no vector
surveillance systems and no history of systematic
surveys, or are only beginning to put them in place.
This type of field work is typically held on an ad-
hoc basis and with an arbitrary number of sample sites,
often resulting in excessive cost or results that are not
representative. The results may also be biased because
sampling only takes place in sites with known presence.
and due to inaccurate geo-referencing, proper
correlation with land use at the sample site may be lost.
Such sampling programmes can be optimised by
significantly reducing the number of sampling point
while retaining a statistically representative coverage.
This can be achieved if sample sites are selected taking
into account environmental and climatic conditions, and
if the actual sampling locations are accurately recorded.
A formal, standardized optimisation process is required,
firstly to ensure the sample site selection includes a
sufficient number of sites with a likely absence of
vectors, and secondly, to allow results from different
research groups or sampling epochs to be compared
with each other.
In summary, the amount of field work and the
associated cost can be reduced, with increased
representativeness, by a combination of proper,
automated site selection and a modelling, based on
static land use and geographical data, as well as
dynamic data from satellites. The work can be made
more efficient with support to data entry procedures,
data archiving and data sharing.
2. Modelling related challenges
Distribution modelling is necessary to map the specific
potential emergence and spread of particular mosquito
species, as sampling can never be complete and
ubiquitous. The introduction, abundance and spread of
mosquitoes are linked to eco-climatic factors (such as
winter temperatures, annual rainfall, summer rainfall
and summer temperatures for Aedes albopictus, for
example) and anthropogenic factors (such as land use or
urbanisation). Using the entomological survey data as
inputs, current modelling tools can produce predicted
distribution maps, but they are only used by few highly
specialised practitioners, and are not accessible to most
mainstream health professionals.
III.3 Use cases and deri
ved technical needs
Use cases, describing the current operational setting
and procedures in more detail, have been constructed in
consultation with users, independent experts and
practitioners, in workshops and in individual
consultations. Two major Use cases are considered, one
representing the typical activities of a user focussing on
Distribution Modelling; the other of a user focussing on
Mosquito Control. Requirements and needs are derived
by a systematic evaluation of the use case.
1. Distribution Modelling Use Case
Research institutions and governmental health
organisations aim at mapping a baseline distribution
map of mostly endemic species. In addition they are
interested in longitudinal sampling (same location over
the course of time) and monitoring of species in order to
determine entomological parameters such as a vector-
free period, start of vector season, peak of vector
activity etc. Lastly these users are interested in assessing
whether changes in environmental (e.g. human,
climatic) can influence the distribution of both endemic
and invasive species e.g. Aedes albopictus. The steps
that the user currently takes to achieve its goal are
described in Table 1.
2. Mos
quito Control Use Case
Mosquito control operators aim to maintain target
insect population levels below certain thresholds above
which there is a danger for nuisance or even potential
for spread of disease. Control should preferably be
applied in an environmentally friendly manner on the
larvae, shortly after hatching. The conditions, location
and timing of hatching vary widely between species
however. Highly detailed and frequent information is
required on the local environment and weather
conditions that the mosquito populations are exposed to.
By combination of various Earth Observation data sets
(radar, optical, infra-red) with data from sensors
installed in the field an adequate model may be
developed. Also distributed sensor networks were
suggested for this purpose, e.g. to monitor the controlled
flooding of rice fields by their owners, an event that
affects the hatching of certain species.
EID Méditerranée and CAA are currently active in
the mosquito control of nuisance mosquitoes (Aedes
caspius), potential vectors of disease (Culex pipiens)
and invasive mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus), each of
which has its own particular environmental preferences,
according to which control measures need to be adapted
(Table 2).
The steps t
hat these users currently take to achieve
its goal are described in Table 3.
Table1.DistributionModellingUseCase
Step1.1 – Mosquito sampling
Definition of key sampling strata
Broad key sampling strata (e.g. urban, agricultural, forests, mountains, wetlands) are
defined in relation to the insect species and the insect stadium, which are (for baseline
mapping) usually adults. On top of these, high-risk of introduction environments are
selected depending to the species: second hand tyres companies, ports, airports,
natural wetland areas and protected areas. Representative sites are selected within
these environments for a cost-efficient survey.
Cross-sectional survey
Is applied for defining the presence of insect species in defined areas. The most
general approach consists to place traps in environments and time-periods chosen as
the most favorable by expert advice. However, a more objective approach can also be
used, based on random-selected sites and dates according to a GIS.
Longitudinal survey
Is generally applied throughout the mosquito development season (which depends to
the species and the local climate), but can be reduced to a shorter time frame in case
of time-limited transmission risk. The frequency of field data collection is dependent to
the insect species, the larval habitat functioning (temporary or permanent, flooding
rhythm) and the risk level. However, a routine weekly base is generally appropriate.
Logistic planning of survey
Once the survey aim and method and the resulting field protocol are defined, trapping
sites are most generally selected directly on the field in the defined areas, depending
to the technical suitability for the trapping (accessibility, security for the expensive
material, etc.). Spatial coordinates and physical addresses need to be collected during
the first trap placement.
Step 1.2 – Field data collection
Adult trapping provide samples that are brought back to the laboratory for detailed
analysis. During trap placement and/or trap removing, various field data could be
collected reported on sheets for further analysis, depending to the request of each
user.
Step 1.3 – Field data analysis and storage
Field collected samples are analyzed in the laboratory for identification and counting
of the collected insects. Personal are usually trained for identifying the local most
common species. However, specialized mosquito taxonomists are rare and
identification of newly introduced species and deep research on mosquito fauna need
good knowledge, which is not often available. Data are stored in databases for further
analysis.
Step 1.4 – Spatial distribution modeling
Spatial distribution modeling is usually limited to a technique standard available in
commercial software packages.
Table2.Mosquitospeciescontrolparticularities
Requirements and needs are derived by a systematic
evaluation of the use case. These two use cases have
largely overlapping needs. The only exception is related
to the type of maps, which for the industrial activity
(vector control) has a requirement for medium
resolution (<30 m) whereas for the public health and
academic activities a low resolution (1 km) is sufficient.
These two resolutions require a fundamentally different
service approach. The low resolution maps can be
generated in a standardized, highly automated manner,
and with high temporal resolution, whereas the medium
resolution maps are less available, more costly and
cannot be processed fully automatically. The analysis
needs to be custom-developed, in close interaction with
the user.
The needs arising from this use case analysis are
summarized in Table 2.
Table3.MosquitoControlUseCase
Aedes albopictus
- nuisance and risk for Chikungunya and dengue fevers
- found in urban environment showing man-made containers and catch basins.
- Larval control teams operate on regular basis by treating permanent water
collections (e.g. local drains) while adult control teams are activated after nuisance
reports of local inhabitants.
- This requires a service focused on rapid logistic deployment of control teams.
Aedes caspius and Aedes detritus
- nuisance
- are largely breeding in temporary flooded coastal salt marshes as well as in inland
fresh water (e.g. rice fields) with synchronous eggs eclosion and larval development
following flooding of the areas.
- This requires that the habitat setting can be correctly identified and that natural
and artificial flooding can be monitored. Within the small water bodies, the number of
larvae must be continuously monitored to enable fast control using larvicidal
treatment.
Aedes vexans
- nuisance
- found in natural areas showing fresh water flooding areas.
Anopheles maculipennis s.l.
- nuisance
- natural areas showing permanent fresh water flooding marshes and canals and
agricultural areas sowing rice paddles and pools.
Coquillettidia richiardii
- nuisance
- natural areas showing permanent fresh water marshes.
Culex modestus
- risk for West Nile fever
- natural areas showing marshes with red beds and agricultural areas showing rice
paddies.
Culex pipiens
- urban nuisance and/or risk for West Nile fever
- urban environment with small waterbodies, irrigation canals, man-made
containers, catch basins, flooded cellars; agricultural areas showing ditches, pools
and cesspits.
- This requires that the rural habitat setting can be correctly identified and that
natural and artificial flooding can be monitored. Within the small water bodies, the
number of larvae must be continuously monitored to enable fast control using
larvicidal treatment.
Step 2.1 – Mosquito sampling
Def
inition of key sampling strata
Firstly, key sampling strata are defined in relation to the insect species responsible of
nuisance or transmission risk, the insect stadium, which is chosen for the surveillance,
as well as the insect stadium chosen to be controlled (larvae, pupae, adults, eggs).
This last choice is dependent to the availability of adapted and efficient control
methods (larviciding or adulticiding) and to their financial and environmental costs.
Most insecticides for example have no effect on pupae.
Environments are selected depending to the species responsible for the nuisance or
the transmission risk, see e.g. Error! Reference source not found.. Representative
sites are selected within these environments for a cost-efficient survey.
Cross-sectional surveys
These are applied for defining the presence of insect species in defined areas. The
most general approach consists to place traps in environments and time-periods
chosen as the most favorable by expert advice. However, a more objective approach
can also be used, based on random-selected sites and dates according to a GIS.
Longitudinal surveys
Are generally applied throughout the mosquito development season (which depends
to the species and the local climate), but can be reduced to a shorter time frame in
case of time-limited transmission risk. The frequency of field data collection is
dependent to the insect species, the larval habitat functioning (temporary or
permanent, flooding rhythm) and the risk level. However, a routine weekly base is
generally appropriate.
Logistic planning of survey
Once the survey aim and method and the resulting field protocol are defined, trapping
sites are most generally selected directly on the field in the defined areas, depending
to the technical suitability for the trapping (accessibility, security for the expensive
material, etc.). Spatial coordinates and physical addresses need to be collected during
the first trap placement.
Step 2.2 – Field data collection
Larval or pupal surveys and adult or egg trapping provide samples that are brought
back to the laboratory for detailed analysis. During trap placement and/or trap
removing, various field data could be collected reported on sheets for further analysis,
depending to the request of each user.
Step 2.3 – Field data analysis and storage
Field collected samples are analyzed in the laboratory for identification and counting
of the collected insects. Personal are usually trained for identifying the local most
common species. However, specialized mosquito taxonomists are rare and
identification of newly introduced species and deep research on mosquito fauna need
good knowledge, which is not often available. Data are stored in databases for further
analysis.
III.3 Users’ constraints and needs for an integrated
solution
At a higher, non-technical level, there are significant
constraints and needs to be taken into account that link
these defined needs.
Ad-hoc modelling techniques are currently
available: the principles of biological sampling are well
understood, the acquisition and processing of Earth
Observation imagery is well established and supported
by specialised software such as ERDAS Imagine and
the ESRI suites; and spatial modelling techniques have
been available for some time through software such as
Idrisi and a number of specialist distribution modelling
tools.
The problem is that the available techniques require
staff with considerable technical expertise in biological
sampling, statistics, spatial modelling, database
management and satellite image processing to
implement. Such skills are sometimes available in to
Academic Users in research institutions, though not
often the complete range needed, but are vanishingly
rare in Public Health or Industrial Organisations. This
means that very few organisations or institutions are
capable of actually implementing the required vector
mapping or the underlying processing and sampling
needed.
Users currently therefore have two major
alternatives if they wish to produce the vector
distribution maps needed to understand disease risks: to
develop the complete range of required skills
themselves or to buy them in from established experts.
Both courses of action are often too expensive of time
or resources to be realistic options, which is why there
is a real threat that vector mapping will not be done.
Public Health users require therefore:
the possibility of obtaining results and maps for
decision making, with less dependency on in-house
expertise, e.g. through access to end-to-end solution
or particular modules by outsourcing.
Academic Users need:
to improve the quality of field sampling, spend less
time collecting field samples (logistics) and as a
result freeing time for analysis and research, hence
significantly contributing to improve research
outputs.
to establish base-line entomological databases in a
standardised format and which will allow them to
follow-up vector distribution patterns over time -
None of the research teams involved with
VECMAP operates a centralized entomological
data archive within their institutes;
to have guaranteed access to a wide range of high
quality specifically processed EO time series to
produce comparable spatial distribution models
over time – None of the research teams involved
with VECMAP currently has such a guaranteed
access;
a system available to all relevant project teams in
the Institute, to increase the integrative and
standardising advantages, such that after
completion of research projects and or departure of
individual researchers data automatically remain
available to the Institute – In addition to the fact
that currently no integrated system is on the market,
currently most the research teams operate using
their own methods without streamlining methods
with other teams;
to strengthen research networks between Institutes
without raising internal network accessibility and
security issues, e.g. through real time data entry in a
central database and secured access to the
externally hosted DB platform to all authorised
partners, – this will facilitate secured real time
exchanges between teams, not only from the same
institute but also from other institutes without
internal IT issues being raised or fire-walls
blocking exchanges.
Industrial users require:
Improved quality and efficiency: e.g. less time
spent to cover the same areas, the same areas
covered in a better way, opportunity to expand
areas under control without need to increase staff
numbers.
Access to outstanding expertise on demand with no
need for hiring expensive specialized permanent
staff. As was shown during the feasibility study,
whilst pest control companies have a high level of
‘classical’ expertise in all technical aspects needed
to control pests, they have little or no in-house
expertise in cost effective sampling, using remote
sensing (both low and high resolution) or
modelling for improving the efficiency of their
control activities;
Opportunities to improve the development of
environmentally friendly integrated pest
management approaches based on evidence
provided by advanced EO and modelling methods.
All the above
mentioned needs are addressed by the
VECMAP solution.
User Community VECMAP
Service Public
Health
Indus-
trial
Aca-
demic
Current approach by users Needs to be addressed by
VECMAP service
Space Asset
1 Key habitat
delineation
X X X Based on available maps
and/or assumptions , general
info on vectors & habitats
Automatic delineation of key
habitats for a vector
Tools for combining spatial layers
Static third
party data
(generated
with EO,
GNSS)
2 Cross-
sectional
stratified
sampling
strategy
X X X Ad hoc determination type &
number of traps (based on
budget or manpower), and
location, time & duration of
placement, for native,
indicator and/or invasive
species, at various stages of
life cycle
Rational/optimal determination of
these parameters. Visualise sites.
Automated document generation
(for access requests)
Automated team assignments
EO
3 Field data
collection
X X X Multiple teams distributed
over season and area (to
remove bias), find a proper
location near preselected
location (e.g. by talking to
farmer in neighborhood),
place traps in the field, return
later to collect results
Automated routing and
scheduling, filtering (for the
assigned team). Mobile unit that
includes a routing component
(based on e.g. military maps).
Field data entry on mobile unit
with easy-to-use interface.
Accurate location record.
Predefined standardised set of
field parameters, plus user-
defined extension. Field data
stored on the mobile unit until
automatic upload to a centralised
database.
EO, GNSS
4 Field
database
setup
X X X Ad-hoc tools (e.g. Excel file) Standard set of database field
parameters, user defined
parameters, all to be added to the
central database.
-
5 Field data
analysis
X X X In laboratory, manual
morphological identification
of collected mosquitoes, data
entry in laboratory system
Training, external validation,
laboratory & web-based interface
to central database
-
6a Local
habitat
mapping
X Ad-hoc tools, using existing
maps and weather reports,
in-situ inspections
Standardized, flexible and easy to
use tools to develop a static map
of local focal habitat. Seasonal
map output is preferred.
Validation.
EO, GNSS
6
b
Area-wide
distribution
mapping
X X Ad-hoc tools, using existing
maps and weather reports.
Flexible and easy to use tools for
countrywide distribution maps for
presence / absence probability.
Single out environmental
parameters that correlate best to
habitat suitability. Abundance
maps can be a surplus. Validation.
EO, GNSS
7 Longitudinal
sampling
strategy /fo ll
ow-up
monito rin g
X X X Trial and error to determine
type of traps, number of
traps, and location, that can
be used to monitor the
current level of abundance
for native, indicator and/or
invasive species (at different
development status).
Optimal selection based on
medium resolution images of land
use and results of cross-sectional
analysis. Provision of home
address close to site. Automated
scheduling. Automated document
generation (for access requests).
Visualisation.
EO
8 Other X X X Recurring lack of accessible
competence / organizational
supp ort
Access to historical data sets,
web-training.
EO
Table 4: Services to be developed in the VECMAP Demo Project
III.4 The VECMAP solution
The VECMAP solution is defined by the system, the
services and the service provisioning scheme, each
described below.
VECMAP System
The VECMAP system is the technology that is to
provide the foundation for the offering of services
responding to the above user needs. The system has
been prototyped during the Feasibility Study and
validated by the involved users (Figure9).
Th
e VECMAP system consists of several integrated
components (Figure 10).
A m
eans to design and execute Field Sampling
campaigns using smart phone and GNSS
technology linked to a centralised database for
archiving and storage. In this manner the field work
can be done remotely, effectively and
independently.
A user-friendly Distribution Modelling software
package, fed by the field sample data and the
necessary EO processed data provided as part of the
System.
The Information System (IS) which is the glue
that integrates the other components and provides
access to all the required supporting data as well as
the means to display and analyse final mapped
products. Depending on the user's needs a variety of
graphical representations and interactive research is
made possible through the engine for the
Geographical Information System (GIS)-
environment. The I.S. also takes care of distribution
and secure archiving of user and system data,
VECMAP utilities, dissemination of updates and
supporting materials as well as product branding.
Figure9.SecondVECMAPuserworkshopat
RIVM(NL),duringvalidationoftheVECMAPsystem
components.
Data sensed
by satellites
@
Database
Spatial
modelling
GIS
User tailored services
In-situ
data
Smartphone
Figure10:VECMAPhighlevelsystemoverview
VECMAP Services
The VECMAP system makes it possible to support each
user community according to the needs identified during
the Feasibility Study. For each step in the use case, a
service, or rather, a set of supporting services has been
identified that utilises the VECMAP system. In this
way, a highly modular service offering can be obtained
(Figure 12). These services are to be developed during
t
he next phase of the VECMAP project (IAP
Demonstration Project).
The foreseen interaction of the user with the
VECMAP components and services are described in the
following steps of the vector mapping use case.
1. Key habitat delineation (Service 1)
With the help of static geographical vector and
raster data from third parties (administrative unit
layers, Corine land use, elevation), the area to be
studied is stratified into key habitat regions. A
statistically representative number of sampling
points is calulated and then the locations are
generated randomly within each of the sampling
strata.
2. Cross-sectional stratified sampling strategy
(Service 2)
As team members have been registered,
schedules are produced for sampling teams to visit
sites in such a way that possible regional or
seasonal bias is removed. The VECMAP system
identifies the owner of the land where a sampling
site is planned and automatically generates the
letter to request access to the land. A routing
service is available, as well as a web-based map
server for visualising terrain accessibility in
advance. The strategy and sampling points are
synchronized with a central database, also if the
user runs his own version of the VECMAP
software. This provides security, accessibility for
all team members, the possibility to share and
combine data of different campaigns managers via
a web-interface, and the possibility to detect
inconsistencies in the data. Progress of the sampling
activity can also be monitored via this interface.
3. Field data collection (Service 3)
The sampling team members make use of a
VECMAP Smartphone. EGNOS enabled satellite
navigation guides the team members towards their
daily sampling sites, both via main roads and rural
paths. Via a user-friendly interface, the team
member can complete a form to log the sample site
observations. The form contains typically
mandatory, standard and user-defined fields. The
location is automatically added. Synchronization of
the data with the central database takes place as
soon as a link can be established via terrestrial
communication links.
4. Field database set-up (Service 4)
Together with the user, the database for the
user-collected data is set up. This may be shared
with other users (e.g. within the same institute)
under a variety of access levels. Modelling results
as well as all Earth Observation data, raw and
processed, are also maintained in the database.
5. Field data analysis support (Service 5)
The samples of vectors are typically analyzed
by the user or a third party in a laboratory.
VECMAP provides the option to enter the analysis
results directly into the VECMAP system via the
user interface. Alternatively, the laboratory data on
the retrieved vectors can be ported from the
laboratory data management system to VECMAP
via an interface agent that is part of the VECMAP
software.
6. Distribution modelling and landscape mapping
(Services 6a and 6b)
Sample data or other geo-referenced data of
vector presence/absence can be combined with
geographical data in order to obtain maps of
habitat suitability, distribution, risk or abundance,
etc. Typically such maps require complex
modelling and significant validation effort and
follow-up work. VECMAP provides step-by-step,
highly automated modelling according to the most-
used techniques. A specifically powerful technique
is the Non-Linear Discriminant Analysis, which
identifies the geographical input parameters that
provide the best correlation with sampling results.
With the correlations known, a meaningful fit
between sample results can be obtained,
responsive to the local values of the relevant
geographical parameters. Validation and indices of
interpolation quality are then provided.
Figure 11. NLDA typical results (vertical: simulations,
horizontal: parameters, strength of correlation
indicatedbycolor)
The input parameters required for the
modelling can be any type of raster data, e.g.
demographical, topographical or Earth
Observation data. Typical Earth Observation
derived parameters with relevance to epidemiology
are vegetation indices (e.g. NDVI, fAPAR from
SPOTp, Envisat-MERIS or Terra/Aqua-MODIS)
or land surface temperatures (Terra/Aqua-MODIS)
The VECMAP service provides a guaranteed
record of recent as well as historical Earth
Observation data. The data is taken at a time
resolution of several weeks, and then expressed in
a more compact way via Fourier transform,
therewith exposing seasonal effects in particular.
For distribution modelling at national scale, a 1
km resolution typically suffices and this has been
selected as the standard (Service 6b). Data from
different sources must thus be geo-referenced and
resampled to obtain the necessary standard input
format.
7. Longi
tudinal sampling strategy & follow-up
monitoring (Service 7)
Following a baseline mapping activity,
VECMAP can provide the best strategy to monitor
and improve the situation on the long term. For this
a much smaller number of well-selected samplings
will suffice, that are regularly visited (e.g. every
two weeks during the vector season).
8. VECMAP suppor
t services (Service 8).
In addition to these use-case related services,
the VECMAP system shall provide a number of
additional services, related to the Information
System (I.S.) as well as those based on special
requests from the users. This includes secure access
and archiving for the different data sets produced
via a web-interface, including Earth Observation
data at its various stages of processing, access to
spatial analysis tools and the provision of updates,
web-based training etc.
This service supply scheme allows tailoring the
service provision modes to the three user communities.
Table 5. Earth Observationdata available for VECMAP
DistributionModelingservice
Users active in vector control require typically
medium or high resolution maps (better than 30 m)
and a regular update (days) in the critical season
when mosquito larvae hatch. The vector control
needs are very specific to both vector species and
region. The distribution modelling approach is not
valid for these cases. The landscape mapping
(Service 6a) must therefore be performed in two
stages. First the needs are mapped by interaction
with each user individually, then a tailored service
is developed, as much as possible building on (or
extending) the VECMAP system.
Figure12.VECMAPsystemandservicearchitecture,userinteractionandspaceassetsinvolvement
Service provision modes
Even if the services required by the various user groups
are much alike, the manner in which they are to be
offered depends on the distinct characteristics and
available expertise that drive the manner in which these
user groups are typically operating (Section III.1).
VECMAP is therefore planned to be offered in three
different service modes:
On-Premise Service Mode
Provided for advanced users who have all necessary
expertise in-house and who wish to operate all
VECMAP functionalities independently (primarily
tailored to academics);
On-Demand Service Mode
For users who wish to operate part of the VECMAP
functionalities in-house and require additional
external expertise offered by the VECMAP
consortium as a service (tailored to public health
users);
Full-Service Service Mode
Provided for users who only require access to the
final output: e.g. risk assessment maps. The
VECMAP consortium acquires data, operates the
system and generates customised outputs (tailored
to industrial users).
III.4 Benefits and potential of VECMAP
VECMAP presents a ‘One-Shop-Stop” that
integrates the entire process of producing risk maps into
a single enabling package that can be used by a much
wider range of practitioners than is currently the case.
This integration into a single system of all stages
required for sampling, modelling and risk mapping, and
data archiving, ensures technical compatibility of all
data sources, as well as the provision of regular updates
where necessary, and specialised support. It demystifies
the methodologies, guarantees continued access to state
of the art techniques, and makes the outputs more
transparent and thus more applicable. It also provides
standardization for data sharing and efficient access to
historical records.
VECMAP allows a reduction in field work and data
retrieval and pre-processing. Sampling strategies for
modelling or monitoring can be optimised to use the
minimum resources needed to achieve a predefined
level of reliability. Modelling implementation is
streamlined and simplified with no loss of accuracy.
Data pre-processing needs are largely removed,
enabling clients to commit more resources to producing
outputs rather than to processing overheads.
This allows the users to focus on data analysis.
VECMAP service can readily be used to map other
targets than the mosquitoes for which the prototype is
currently tailored. This includes the distribution of any-
thing that is primarily determined by the environmental
and demographic factors fed into the modelling process
and is global in scope, e.g. other vectors such as ticks
and Culicoides (biting midges), as well as a wide range
animal or human diseases.
Future users may thus include private companies
such as insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies
and insecticide producers to quantify the risks and thus
the potential markets they represent.
VECMAP thus is both ‘enabling’ – by making state
of the art techniques available to non-specialists, and
‘enhancing’ – by improving efficiency and cost
effectiveness for those who can use some of the
methods and resources that currently exist.
Surveying and mapping vectors thus becomes
affordable and resources are freed to conduct other
related research activities, to improve scientific quality
or to expand surveys to new areas and/ or other species.
IV. DEMONSTRATION PROJECT
During the Demonstration Project, started recently,
the VECMAP system prototype will serve as a basis for
services to be developed and matured up to an
operational stage, and then demonstrated under field
condition. The three types of service provision will be
refined and deployed. In addition, dedicated services
will be developed and validated for high resolution
vector monitoring and control, in particular regarding
resource optimization, presence/abundance mapping
and prediction.
A number of available prototype systems will thus
be improved. The prototype sampling strategy system
elements will be further developed and its applicability
extended to obtain meaningful results for disease
vectors other than mosquitoes. The same holds true for
the smart-phone-based field data collection system that
provide field data entry functionalities. Furthermore, a
single centralized, secure data archive will be created
within the information system. The Earth Observation
system data will require updating and maintenance to
ensure time series are fully up to date when VECMAP
is launched, and in addition to the other EO data
sources, the MERIS imagery will be acquired,
processed and evaluated. The distribution modelling
system tool will be enhanced to include additional
capabilities and will be fully integrated with the other
systems.
A largely new development will be the habitat
mapping service of the mosquito landscape mapping
system, which will be designed, developed and
validated. For this, a dedicated toolset will be built,
including high-resolution geographical data processing
and analysis algorithms and software.
Data representation tools and the necessary analysis
environment will be further tailored to user needs.
Furthermore, services will be developed that interact
with the system and the user requiring development of
software, service centre infrastructure, operational
procedures, manuals and other documentation for the
users.
V. CONCLUSION
The VECMAP IAP Feasibility Study prototyped a
system that optimizes the required resources for
mosquito mapping field and laboratory work, mosquito
mapping and distribution modelling, tailored for public
health, industrial (pest control) and academic users.
Using geo-referencing techniques and mobile
communication technologies, field data are
automatically fed into the prediction model. In addition,
state-of-the-art space imagery is routinely processed to
support the modelling, thereby alleviating field work.
On a case-by-case basis, high resolution remote sensing
data is used to assess critical issues more closely (e.g.
weather data, state of water bodies). The system
provides assistance to clients where needed and acts as a
secure and consistent, web-accessible data archive for
the inputs and outputs. It has been validated with the
VECMAP users in a Proof of Concept, and will now be
made operational through an IAP Demonstration
Project.
Presence and abundance of disease vectors can be
better predicted and controlled with the support of a
range of available integrated elements: remote sensing
data (Earth Observation), Satellite Navigation, handheld
smart devices, terrestrial communication networks, a
database, modelling tools and an information system.
1
ECDC communication on vector-borne diseases, http://www.world-television.se/world_television.se/
mnr_stat/mnr/ECDC/431/index.php#
2
ECDC project TigerMaps, http://www.avia-gis.com
3
Modirisk project, http://www.modirisk.be, http://modirisk.avia-gis.com
4
ESA DUE project Epidemio Final Report to ESA contract 17809/03/I-LG,
http://dup.esrin.esa.it/projects/summaryp60.asp
5
DG SANCO – ESA workshop on “Initiative for Generating Operational Risk Maps for Communicable Diseases
using Integrated Space and Non-space Assets” (Oct. 2007)
6
ESA “Mosquitoes' habitat mapping” workshop (Oct. 2008)
... We used the biomod2 platform in R [60] and VECMAP software to create species distribution models in order to identify areas with suitable habitat conditions for potential SINV vectors and human SINV infections [61][62][63]. All geospatial datasets, including environmental and other data, were processed in ESRI ArcGIS (version 10.3.1) ...
... Second, we used VECMAP (version 2.2.2.4503) [63] software in order to test the consistency of the results. In VECMAP, we used GLM and RF models to estimate the disease risk. ...
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Pogosta disease is a mosquito-borne infection, caused by Sindbis virus (SINV), which causes epidemics of febrile rash and arthritis in Northern Europe and South Africa. Resident grouse and migratory birds play a significant role as amplifying hosts and various mosquito species, including Aedes cinereus, Culex pipiens, Cx. torrentium and Culiseta morsitans are documented vectors. As specific treatments are not available for SINV infections, and joint symptoms may persist, the public health burden is considerable in endemic areas. To predict the environmental suitability for SINV infections in Finland, we applied a suite of geospatial and statistical modeling techniques to disease occurrence data. Using an ensemble approach, we first produced environmental suitability maps for potential SINV vectors in Finland. These suitability maps were then combined with grouse densities and environmental data to identify the influential determinants for SINV infections and to predict the risk of Pogosta disease in Finnish municipalities. Our predictions suggest that both the environmental suitability for vectors and the high risk of Pogosta disease are focused in geographically restricted areas. This provides evidence that the presence of both SINV vector species and grouse densities can predict the occurrence of the disease. The results support material for public-health officials when determining area-specific recommendations and deliver information to health care personnel to raise awareness of the disease among physicians.
... We created a GIS-based sampling strategy using both ESRI ArcGIS (version 10.3.1) (ESRI, Redlands, CA, USA) and VECMAP ® software [48] with the following criteria (Additional file 1: Fig. S1a). We created "regulated areas" as buffer zones around existing I. persulcatus occurrences within a 5-km radius to exclude them from the sampling strategy. ...
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Background Ticks are responsible for transmitting several notable pathogens worldwide. Finland lies in a zone where two human-biting tick species co-occur: Ixodesricinus and Ixodespersulcatus. Tick densities have increased in boreal regions worldwide during past decades, and tick-borne pathogens have been identified as one of the major threats to public health in the face of climate change. Methods We used species distribution modelling techniques to predict the distributions of I.ricinus and I.persulcatus, using aggregated historical data from 2014 to 2020 and new tick occurrence data from 2021. By aiming to fill the gaps in tick occurrence data, we created a new sampling strategy across Finland. We also screened for tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) and Borrelia from the newly collected ticks. Climate, land use and vegetation data, and population densities of the tick hosts were used in various combinations on four data sets to estimate tick species’ distributions across mainland Finland with a 1-km resolution. Results In the 2021 survey, 89 new locations were sampled of which 25 new presences and 63 absences were found for I.ricinus and one new presence and 88 absences for I.persulcatus. A total of 502 ticks were collected and analysed; no ticks were positive for TBEV, while 56 (47%) of the 120 pools, including adult, nymph, and larva pools, were positive for Borrelia (minimum infection rate 11.2%, respectively). Our prediction results demonstrate that two combined predictor data sets based on ensemble mean models yielded the highest predictive accuracy for both I.ricinus (AUC = 0.91, 0.94) and I.persulcatus (AUC = 0.93, 0.96). The suitable habitats for I.ricinus were determined by higher relative humidity, air temperature, precipitation sum, and middle-infrared reflectance levels and higher densities of white-tailed deer, European hare, and red fox. For I.persulcatus, locations with greater precipitation and air temperature and higher white-tailed deer, roe deer, and mountain hare densities were associated with higher occurrence probabilities. Suitable habitats for I.ricinus ranged from southern Finland up to Central Ostrobothnia and North Karelia, excluding areas in Ostrobothnia and Pirkanmaa. For I.persulcatus, suitable areas were located along the western coast from Ostrobothnia to southern Lapland, in North Karelia, North Savo, Kainuu, and areas in Pirkanmaa and Päijät-Häme. Conclusions This is the first study conducted in Finland that estimates potential tick species distributions using environmental and host data. Our results can be utilized in vector control strategies, as supporting material in recommendations issued by public health authorities, and as predictor data for modelling the risk for tick-borne diseases.
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