Beating Belgium’s mosquitoes
Guy Hendrickx
“MODIRISK was a unique opportunity to apply to Europe the methods I developed in Africa and to set the scene for VECMAP" – Guy Hendrickx, CEO Avia-GIS
MODIRISK Culex pipiens model outputs
Today’s VECMAP has its technical and intellectual roots in methods which the founder of Avia-GIS developed in Togo, West Africa, for mapping tsetse flies, their hosts, and the diseases they transmit to man and livestock. In Belgium he initiated MODIRISK, a Belspo project set up to map mosquito diversity in Belgium: 1,000 sampling sites were visited during two vector seasons, each divided into two sampling periods. As a result, 22 mosquito species were identified of which two were first-time records of invasive species. Here five model outputs are show for the mosquito Culex pipiens in the Benelux using first the full data set of 1000 sampling points, and then respectively a sub-sample of 800, 600, 400 and 200 sampling points. This is part of a research conducted by Avia-GIS do identify ideal sample sizes and optimize the cost-efficiency of field surveys.
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From continent to field: tracking down Liver Fluke
Johannes Charlier
“When I developed an Elisa test to diagnose liver fluke in dairy cattle herds for my previous employer, I had no idea that this would allow VECMAP to map the disease at a continental scale" – Johannes Charlier, CTO Avia-GIS
Fasciola hepatica in Europe
Liver flukes, Fasciola hepatica, are parasites of cattle. The cows are infected when the parasite shed by its intermediary host, a mud snail, is eaten together with grass. Liver fluke causes severe economic damage, especially by impeding milk production from dairy herds. Global losses are estimated at US$3 billion per year. The presence of liver fluke has been mapped under the EU FP7 GLOWORM project, which operated in five countries from Ireland to Poland. The fieldwork and sampling phase of the project was an unusual one. It is not necessary to hunt for the snail in the open air to determine its presence. Instead, cattle with liver fluke infection produce antibodies which are detectable in their milk. Sampling the tanks in which milk is collected on farms allows the whole herd to be sampled and shows the presence of both fluke and snails in pasture. The project sampled 3,359 tanks in all.
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Optimising resource use in vector surveys
Veerle Versteirt
“As coordinator of VectorNet, VECMAP is an essential tool to identify gaps in maps and to plan additional field surveys for a variety of vector species throughout Europe" – Veerle Versteirt, COO Avia-GIS
VectorNet Map of Aedes albopictus distribution in Europe (July 2016)
The liver fluke campaign discussed in the previous example shows that we can improve disease control by thinking about disease vectors on a broad scale. To do this, all data on a vector of interest needs to be available on a comparable basis. VBORNET and its follow-up network VectorNet put this possibility into practice. The network, run by Avia-GIS for the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC, Stockholm, Sweden), now joined by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA, Parma, Italy), collects Pan-European data on a variety of potential disease vectors including mosquitoes, ticks, sand flies and biting midges, from a range of sources. An example is given here of the distribution of the tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, an invasive mosquito in Europe.
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