Emerging Diseases

Despite early pronouncements in the 1960’s that infectious diseases had been vanquished with the advent of antimicrobials, we have seen in recent years an acceleration of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases worldwide. Causes range from the development of resistance to antimicrobial therapies to enhanced global travel of disease organisms. It is estimated that approximately 60% of these diseases are zoonotic and that, among the zoonoses, some 72% are believed to trace to wildlife populations (Nature 451:990-994). Current IGHHP studies in infectious disease have begun with a determination of mosquito dispersal in the region of San Isidro de Peñas Blancas, San Ramón, Costa Rica to develop a baseline from which studies in vector movements linked to climate changed can be investigated.

In recent years there has been a resurgence and spread of endemic infectious diseases, as well as the emergence of novel ones, around the world (1). Among the expansions were the first reports of chikungunya virus in the Western Hemisphere, taking hold initially on St. Maarten in the Caribbean in late 2013, spreading rapidly to other islands and reaching such mainland areas as the U.S. and Costa Rica by the summer of 2014 (2-4). Meanwhile, the incidence of dengue virus has continued to increase worldwide, with 2013 tallying the greatest number of dengue cases in Costa Rica on record (5). Both viruses are efficiently vectored by Aedes aegypti, which also transmits the yellow fever virus (6). In this pilot study, we propose to develop the methodology to support public health studies aimed at defining the presence of vector mosquitoes in the study area. Further, a successful protocol for the collection of these data will enable the establishment of a baseline against which the impacts of climate change can be assessed, such as the expansion of vectors to higher altitudes as warming progresses. To lay the groundwork for the development of public health and climate change studies, we will test the functionality of the Biogents Sentinel mosquito surveillance trap in a variety of trap configurations and topographical areas in the vicinity of the Soltis Center in Costa Rica and develop preliminary identification protocols for the mosquitoes attracted to the trap (7).

1. Kilpatrick AM, Randolph SE. Drivers, dynamics, and control of emerging vector-borne zoonotic diseases. Lancet 2012; 380:1946-55.
2. CDC. Chikungunya in the Caribbean. Accessed 8/5/14 at: http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/geo/caribbean.html
3. CDC. Chikungunya in the U.S. Accessed 8/5/14 at: http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/geo/united-states.html
4. CDC. Chikungunya in the Americas. Accessed 8/5/14 at: http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/geo/americas.html
5. Tico Times. Costa Rica dengue epidemic sets all time record for calendar year. September 27, 2013. Accessed 8/5/14 at: http://www.ticotimes.net/2013/09/27/costa-rica-dengue-epidemic-sets-all-time-record-for-calendar-year-2
6. Wikipedia. Aedes aegypti. Accessed 8/5/14 at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aedes_aegypti
7. Biogents. Instruction Manual for the Biogents Sentinel, An innovative trapping system for mosquitoes & other hematophagous insects.