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GSL presents: "NOAA-CDC Ventures in Public Health and Weather"

November 30, 2021


Dr. Karen Holcomb presented "NOAA-CDC Ventures in Public Health and Weather: Impacts of vector control and weather on mosquito populations and West Nile virus transmission dynamics." Dr. Holcomb has a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of California-Davis and is with the NOAA Global Systems Laboratory in Boulder, CO, and the CDC National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) in Ft. Collins, CO. Her post-doc sponsored by NOAA Climate Program Office.

This seminar grows out of a new NOAA-CDC collaboration aimed at providing a bridge between agencies to jointly address public health concerns, focusing initially on the impact of weather on West Nile Virus predictions. The objectives of this seminar are to provide a background on West Nile Virus (WNV) transmission and mosquito control practices, highlight the impact of weather on WNV dynamics, and dive into research on the impacts of vector control and weather on WNV. In terms of vector control strategies, the seminar will delve into the evaluation of the spatio-temporal impacts of aerial applications of insecticides and bird-delivered ivermectin on Culex mosquito populations and WNV transmission dynamics.

Outbreaks of WNV are strongly influenced by environmental and atmospheric drivers. The virus can cause a potentially fatal neuroinvasive mosquito-borne disease and is maintained in an enzootic cycle between birds and Culex mosquitoes but can spill over to cause infections in horses and humans. Common prevention strategies rely on insecticides to reduce the abundance of infectious mosquitoes in proximity to humans, thereby reducing zoonotic transmission risk. However, the degree to which mosquito populations are reduced following applications is highly variable and difficult to measure in operational settings. Alternative vector control strategies, like ivermectin, a drug that increases mosquito mortality when ingested, are under investigation to improve the specificity of control strategies. Weather has large impacts on both mosquito population and WNV transmission dynamics, thereby indicating it may be a useful piece in WNV predictions.

View the presentation on YouTube.