Advisors: Maria Diuk-Wasser and Karen Seto
Aedes aegypti is the main dengue vector worldwide because of its close association with humans in tropical and sub-tropical urbanized areas. Given its role in the emergence of epidemic dengue, vector control methods have focused on controlling Ae. aegypti by eliminating artificial water containers that function as breeding sites. However, the efficacy of vector control methods has been limited in part by the presence of alternative natural container breeding species. In Puerto Rico, Ae. mediovittatus, a native mosquito species, is a competent dengue vector with a high rate of vertical transmission for all dengue virus serotypes. Its distribution is thought to overlap with that of Ae. aegypti in areas with both low-density housing and the presence of trees.
The primary goal of this research is to use geospatial analytical tools to describe the environmental drivers that shape the habitat of important vectors of dengue viruses in Patillas, Puerto Rico. Sentinel traps will be used to collect and measure density of adult mosquitoes in Patillas. Using a GIS, the distribution of both Ae. aegypti and Ae. mediovittatus will be mapped and special attention will be given to areas of overlap. The second goal of this project is to explore the use of remotely sensed imagery to detect environmental features linked to presence of Ae. aegypti, Ae. mediovittatus, and co-occurrence. Environmental variables will be assessed at different spatial scales using multiple remote sensed images at different spatial resolutions. Using these geospatial tools to define environmental features linked to co-occurrence provides the opportunity to focus intervention efforts to areas of high risk, especially important in resource poor locations.