Research highlight

Epidemiology: Monitoring mosquitoes? There's an app for that

Nature Communications

October 25, 2017

The general public can help to track disease carrying mosquitoes using a mobile application, and this citizen science approach can provide a scalable alternative to traditional methods of surveillance, reports a study published in Nature Communications this week. The system is used to monitor the Asian tiger mosquito, a vector of several arboviruses, including Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya, which has spread from the western Pacific and Southeast Asia to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas over the past 30 years.

Recent outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue highlight the importance of monitoring the invasion and geographic expansion of mosquito species that have spread beyond their native range in recent decades. John Palmer and colleagues assess surveillance of the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) in Spain during 2014-2015 using the Mosquito Alert mobile application, which relies on reports of mosquito sightings by the public. They compare nearly 5,000 reports with data collected from nearly all mosquito egg traps monitored in Spain during the same period. The authors report that this citizen science approach costs less than traditional monitoring of mosquito eggs by experts in the field, while providing comparable quality of monitoring with the advantage of larger geographic coverage.

Anyone who wants to participate can report sightings of Asian tiger mosquitos through the Mosquito Alert mobile application, which automatically includes the exact location and time of each sighting. A team of entomologists reviews and validates all reports that include photographs, after which the observation data is made publically available and can be used for research and for planning public health control measures.

doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00914-9

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