Dr. Cynthia Roxanne Connelly is a Professor of Medical Entomology at the University of Florida, Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach Florida. She regularly maintains contact with over 50 mosquito control districts and programs in the state of Florida, assisting in their research and training needs. She also maintains contact with the county and state extension faculty and the public at large. Roxanne teaches courses for graduate students, a two week advanced mosquito I.D. course each year on the FMEL campus, and a number of courses at the DODD Short Course each year. She has held the office of President of both the Florida Mosquito Control Association and the American Mosquito Control Association, was a founder of the Young Professionals of AMCA, serves on a number of committees within the University and was the editor of Buzz Words for over sixteen years.

 

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With Roxanne’s extensive knowledge and instrumental participation in the mosquito control industry, ADAPCO® wanted to get her viewpoint on the current Zika situation in the United States. Below are her answers to some questions we had:

Q:

How do the projects worked on by FMEL directly impact/relate to the work mosquito control professionals perform?

A:

Some examples of how FMEL research directly impacts mosquito control include work on vector competency, mosquito species distribution, arbovirus epidemic risk prediction, and insecticide susceptibility. In vector competency studies, local populations of potential vector species are tested to determine their ability to transmit pathogens such as West Nile, Chikungunya, Dengue, and Zika viruses. The results inform mosquito control programs about the importance of a given mosquito species in vectoring specific virus in their jurisdiction, which in turn should guide their control efforts. Vector competence studies in conjunction with distribution studies can assist with planning for targeted control of a specific vector species. The arbovirus epidemic risk research uses historical data of variables such as water table depth, temperature, rainfall, and mosquito populations in a specific geographic area during epidemic and non-epidemic periods to find “signatures” that can be monitored to predict future risk. Mosquito control can use the models to assess local risk of an epidemic and use this to guide their control plans. Insecticide susceptibility studies can be used to help develop IPM programs, to determine if there are concerns about resistance to an active ingredient, and to assist in decisions on when to rotate active ingredients.

Q:

Is the domestic Zika threat real?

A:

The threat of local transmission of Zika virus is real. Specific to Florida, both Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are present and common in Florida. Conditions that are necessary for local transmission to become a concern are present in some areas of Florida including an abundance of Aedes aegypti in densely populated areas. Four out of five people who become infected are asymptomatic and may encounter mosquitoes during the time virus is circulating in their blood. It is possible that infected people are already being exposed to local mosquitoes in Florida.

Q:

What are you and FMEL doing to help the state of FL prepare for the potential of local Zika transmission?

A:

FMEL is working on determining the vector competency of local populations of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus for transmitting Zika virus. We are also working on updating the distribution map of these two species, and conducting insecticide susceptibility studies using the CDC bottle bioassay. We have been working on the outreach/education component of container mosquito control by training county extension agents to identify mosquitoes and to offer programs to their clientele to teach them about reducing mosquitoes around homes and communities. We provide fact sheets and other forms of educational materials that mosquito control programs are able to distribute to the public.

Q:

What strategies are most effective in combating the proliferation of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus?

A:

We know from past experience that one technique alone doesn’t provide long-term control of these species. An IPM based program that combines several tools would be the best approach; however, it is difficult to maintain long-term control of these species. If one area (one yard, one neighborhood, etc.) is treated with larvicides and adulticides, and water-holding containers are emptied, there will continue to be inputs of the container mosquitoes either from adult mosquitoes flying into treated zones and laying eggs, or from movement of water-holding containers such as planters and used tires. Also, even if containers are discarded, there are natural containers such as tree holes and bromeliad plants where the mosquitoes will thrive. So a one-time control effort would not be effective; it requires several tools and a long-term commitment from the public, from vector control, public health, and communities working together.

Disclaimer: These questions were answered on July 5, 2016. We understand the Zika situation is changing every day and the thoughts here represent the scenario at that time.