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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(8), 3192-3202; doi:10.3390/ijerph10083192

Using Undergraduate Researchers to Build Vector and West Nile Virus Surveillance Capacity

Department of Natural Science, Carroll College, 1601 N. Benton Ave., Helena, MT 59625, USA
Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
Aaniiih Nakoda College, Harlem, MT 59526, USA
Little Big Horn College, Crow Agency, MT 59022, USA
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 May 2013 / Revised: 23 July 2013 / Accepted: 25 July 2013 / Published: 31 July 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epidemiology of West Nile Virus)
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Vector surveillance for infectious diseases is labor intensive and constantly threatened by budget decisions. We report on outcomes of an undergraduate research experience designed to build surveillance capacity for West Nile Virus (WNV) in Montana (USA). Students maintained weekly trapping stations for mosquitoes and implemented assays to test for WNV in pools of Culex tarsalis. Test results were verified in a partnership with the state health laboratory and disseminated to the ArboNET Surveillance System. Combined with prior surveillance data, Cx. tarsalis accounted for 12% of mosquitoes with a mean capture rate of 74 (±SD = 118) Cx. tarsalis females per trap and a minimum infection rate of 0.3 infected mosquitoes per 1000 individuals. However, capture and infection rates varied greatly across years and locations. Infection rate, but not capture rate, was positively associated with the number of WNV human cases (Spearman’s rho = 0.94, p < 0.001). In most years, detection of the first positive mosquito pool occurred at least a week prior to the first reported human case. We suggest that undergraduate research can increase vector surveillance capacity while providing effective learning opportunities for students.
Keywords: West Nile Virus; vector surveillance; Culex tarsalis; arthropod vectors; infectious disease West Nile Virus; vector surveillance; Culex tarsalis; arthropod vectors; infectious disease
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hokit, G.; Alvey, S.; Geiger, J.M.O.; Johnson, G.D.; Rolston, M.G.; Kinsey, D.T.; Bear, N.T. Using Undergraduate Researchers to Build Vector and West Nile Virus Surveillance Capacity. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10, 3192-3202.

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