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Contact: Kathy Keatley Garvey
kegarvey@ucdavis.edu
530-754-6894
Public Library of Science

Human movement plays critical role in understanding disease transmission

To control mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, researchers need to look at the behavior of people, not just the insect that transmits the disease, according to new research by Steven Stoddard of the University of California, Davis, and intercollegiate colleagues. The study, published July 21 in the open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, exhibits work by an international, multidisciplinary team of vector biologists, sociologists and virologists studying dengue in Iquitos, Peru.

Understanding the behavior of the host and vector can lead to better surveillance and intervention and improved disease prevention, said Stoddard. The incidence rate of dengue in Iquitos has varied from around five percent to over 30 percent after new virus serotype introductions, according to Stoddard. There is no vaccine and no cure for dengue, which is transmitted by the tiger-striped, day-biting mosquito, Aedes aegypti.

To track individual human movement, the research team uses satellite-based global positioning system (GPS) and culturally-sensitive interviews that were developed by the team.

"We do not necessarily expect to be able to identify actual places or individuals where the risk is greatest because the population dynamics of the vector and the behavior of the hosts are too transient," Stoddard said. "We do hope, however, to arrive at a much better understanding of the mechanics of transmissionólike why epidemics occur even when vector abundances are lowóand of the types of places and types of individuals at greatest risk."

The researchers developed a conceptual model showing that the relevance of human movement at a particular scale depends on vector behavior. Focusing on Aedes aegypti, they illustrated how vector-biting behavior combined with fine-scale movements of individual humans engaged in daily routines can influence transmission. They also outlined several considerations for designing epidemiological studies to encourage studies of individual human movement.

"We hope to arrive at a better notion of the spatial scale on which dengue transmission occurs and from an operational standpoint, at what scale to focus interventions," Stoddard said. Another aim is to encourage researchers of other mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, "to do a more incisive examination of individual movements."

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The research paper was authored by vector biologists Steve Stoddard, Thomas Scott, and Amy Morrison of UC Davis Department of Entomology; vector biologists Gonzalo Vasquez-Prokopec and Uriel Kitron of the Department of Environmental Studies, Emory University, Atlanta; virologist Tadeuz Kochel of the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center Detachment, Lima and Iquitos, Peru; sociologist John Elder of the Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University; and sociologist Valerie Paz Soldan of Tulane University, New Orleans.

PLEASE MENTION THE OPEN-ACCESS JOURNAL PLoS NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES (www.plosntds.org) AS THE SOURCE FOR THIS ARTICLE AND PROVIDE A LINK TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE TEXT. THANK YOU.

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal published weekly by the Public Library of Science (PLoS).

FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: This work is supported by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH; R01 AI069341-01) to TWS. The sponsor had no role in this study other than providing funding.

COMPETING INTERESTS: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLEASE ADD THIS LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0000481 (link will go live upon embargo lift)

CITATION: Stoddard ST, Morrison AC, Vazquez-Prokopec GM, Paz Soldan V, Kochel TJ, et al. (2009) The Role of Human Movement in the Transmission of Vector-Borne Pathogens. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 3(7): e481. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000481

CONTACT:

Kathy Keatley Garvey
Communications Specialist
Department of Entomology
University of California, Davis
Phone: (530) 754-6894
Fax: (530) 752-1537
kegarvey@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer

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About PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (http://www.plosntds.org/) is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal devoted to the pathology, epidemiology, prevention, treatment, and control of the neglected tropical diseases, as well as public policy relevant to this group of diseases. All works published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases are open access, which means that everything is immediately and freely available subject only to the condition that the original authorship and source are properly attributed. The Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License, and copyright is retained by the authors.

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The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org.



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