Focus on Vector-borne Diseases | May 2023
This month’s publication includes articles, infographics, and featured people centered around vector-borne diseases.
Luke Jerram’s Artistic Odes to the Intricacies and Wonders of Science
British artist Luke Jerram has made a name for himself by incorporating scientific principles and concepts into his artwork. His pieces often explore the mysteries of the natural world and the ways in which science shapes our understanding of it.
One of Jerram’s most captivating installations is the “Gaia” project, which features detailed images of the Earth’s surface taken from 120dpi detailed NASA imagery. The artwork offers a unique perspective on our world, floating in three dimensions and highlighting both its fragility and its beauty. This is just one example of how Jerram’s work challenges viewers to think more deeply about the scientific phenomena that surround us.
Dr. Peter Hotez: Fighting Neglected Diseases, One Shot at a Time
Dr. Peter J. Hotez is a physician-scientist who dedicates his career to fighting neglected tropical diseases and vaccine development. He is the Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and a professor at Baylor College of Medicine, where he also serves as the Co-director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) and the Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair of Tropical Pediatrics.
Dr. Hotez is an internationally recognized expert in his field, leading a team and product development partnership for new vaccines for diseases such as hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and coronaviruses, which affect millions of people worldwide. He is committed to championing global access to vaccines, including leading efforts to develop a low-cost recombinant protein COVID vaccine resulting in emergency use authorization in India.
Vector-borne Diseases & Climate Change
Climate change creates new risks, particularly in the United States, for human exposure to vector-borne diseases (VBDs) — diseases which are transmitted to humans through the bites of insects (referred to as vectors) that carry the disease-causing pathogens. Common vectors include mosquitoes, ticks, and flies.
Climate change creates new uncertainties about the spread of VBDs such as the Zika virus, dengue fever, malaria, and Lyme disease by altering conditions that affect the development and dynamics of the disease vectors and the pathogens they carry.
Tracking the Global Burden of Vector-Borne Disease
The burden of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) is one of public health’s most pressing challenges. VBDs are caused by pathogens such as arboviruses (arthropod-borne virus), bacteria, and parasites that are transmitted to humans and animals through the bites of infected arthropods including mosquitoes, ticks, sandflies, and fleas, among others. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , “vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious diseases, causing more than 700,000 deaths annually worldwide”.
Beyond these broad statistics, attempts to quantify the global burden of VBDs is extremely challenging – for a number of reasons. At the highest level, even “burden” has an underlying complexity in public health terms: burden may refer to the number of cases of a given disease as well as the number of deaths.
Burden can also represent Disability-adjusted Life Years (DALYs), a measure that accounts for the long-term effects of disability among the afflicted, as well as the economic impact of disease from regions and countries all the way down to households and individuals. These economic impacts can be further scrutinized as reduced productivity among the populace, increased healthcare costs, and negative impacts on tourism; all of which can directly affect the GDP and economic growth of local and regional economies. And that’s just the beginning.
Study: Digitally Managed Larviciding
A new study has found that larval source management (LSM) – treating mosquito breeding habitats – can still be effective in malaria elimination operations, especially with the aid of new digital technologies. LSM has been replaced in Africa by long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS), but these methods are becoming less effective due to mosquitoes’ growing resistance to insecticides.