Mobile tech could transform mosquito-borne disease monitoring

28 January 2019 (Last Updated January 28th, 2019 16:03)

Mosquitos have the ability to carry and spread diseases to humans, and the diseases they spread cause millions of deaths every year.

Mobile tech could transform mosquito-borne disease monitoring

Mosquitos have the ability to carry and spread diseases to humans, and the diseases they spread cause millions of deaths every year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 438,000 deaths in 2015 were due to malaria. Dengue, a viral infection transmitted by mosquitos, is spreading to new areas of the world according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Countries in Europe are experiencing first-time outbreaks of autochthonous dengue, which are locally originated and unrelated to travel. Mosquito-borne diseases pose a public health risk because after a mosquito transmits a virus to a person, that person can then transmit the virus to another non-infected mosquito. This leads to the spread of diseases in areas that were previously free of disease or that had very low levels of infection.

Mosquito-borne diseases are on the rise

Mosquito-transmitted diseases such as chikungunya, Zika, malaria, and dengue can be severe and life threatening. As such, monitoring the genera of mosquitos (Anopheles, Aedes, and Culex) that transmit these diseases is crucial, especially because more than half of the world’s population live in areas where these mosquitos are present.

According to the WHO, there has been a consistent increase in the number of new cases of dengue over the past 50 years. Globally, incidence of dengue varies widely. According to estimates from the ECDC, 0.6 cases of dengue were reported per 100,000 population in the EU/European Economic Area (EEA) in 2013. GlobalData estimated the incidence of dengue in Brazil and Singapore at approximately 100–400 cases per 100,000 population in 2013.

GlobalData also estimated the incidence of malaria in India and Indonesia at approximately 800–950 cases per 100,000 population in 2013. Although the ECDC has classified the risk of onwards transmission from autochthonous cases as low, public health initiatives such as reporting new cases of dengue early, raising awareness of the disease and symptoms, and monitoring for new cases will be central in keeping the transmission of the virus to a minimum and maintaining the incidence of dengue at its current low level in Europe.

Mobile apps for real-time mosquito monitoring

One important technological innovation that has proven effective at pilot testing sites for monitoring and analyzing data for vector control programs is the Epi Info Vector Surveillance app. The mobile app was designed to collect data on all types of disease-transmitting mosquitos, and to allow data to be compiled in the field. Once a device that has the app installed connects to Wi-Fi or a mobile network, it can send data to a server-based database where surveillance maps, graphs, and various mosquito indices are produced.

Real-time data processing helps personnel devise better mosquito-control measures. Community members have also been eager to participate by volunteering their households for mosquito surveillance after seeing how their data and information are used in the app. Other equally important measures include the use of blood safety protocols, such as testing blood donors, and the possible development of an effective vaccine.

Further details on the epidemiology forecast for dengue in Brazil, India, Mexico, Singapore, and Thailand can be found in GlobalData’s Dengue – Epidemiology Forecast to 2023 report, as well as GlobalData’s Epidemiology and Market Size Database. Details on the epidemiology forecast for Malaria in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, India, and Indonesia can be found in GlobalData’s Malaria: Epidemiology Forecast to 2027 report.