Abstract: 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
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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.
Hokit G, Alvey S, Geiger JMO, Johnson GD, Rolston MG, Kinsey DT, Bear NT. Using Undergraduate Researchers to Build Vector and West Nile Virus Surveillance Capacity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2013; 10(8):3192-3202.
Hokit, Grant; Alvey, Sam; Geiger, Jennifer M.O.; Johnson, Gregory D.; Rolston, Marni G.; Kinsey, Daniel T.; Bear, Neva T. 2013. "Using Undergraduate Researchers to Build Vector and West Nile Virus Surveillance Capacity." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 10, no. 8: 3192-3202.