May 14, 2020 - Volumes

National WALS™ Summit Opens for Registration

Virtual summit on the WALS biorational application strategy for control of container mosquitoes brings educational opportunity and CEUs for abatement professionals in many as 20 states

WALS™, the innovative, biorational application strategy for control of container mosquitos such as Aedes aegypti, has been the subject of a tremendous amount of research since its contributing role in breaking the dengue and Zika transmission cycles in 2010 (Florida Keys) and 2016 (Miami-Dade County, Florida) respectively. Co-innovated by mosquito abatement / Public Health professionals around the globe with support from Valent BioSciences (VBC), WALS was the topic of an in-person training session in Sacramento, CA in February of this year.

Shelter in place orders, however, had since threatened much-needed training in other states.

Working with cooperators and its panel of technical and operations experts, the WALS team transformed its scheduled April, Florida WALS summit to a fully online platform. The April 16th event attracted more than 120 vector control professionals from two states, each of whom earned 3 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for attending the program.

Dr. Banugopan Kesavaraju , VBC Technical Marketing Manager, who partnered with Leanne Lake (VBC Technical Development Specialist) and other Public Health technical specialists to host the event, said there was an immediate outpouring of requests to schedule events for other states.

“The pandemic caused the cancellation of our annual association meeting in March,” Kesavaraju  said, “which included numerous learning opportunities our community depends on to become acquainted with the latest operational research. After such a big turnout for our online WALS summit, we realized we could just bring the research to them.”

This week, the WALS technical team announced it will conduct a National WALS summit on May 21st, with an open invitation to mosquito abatement professionals and other stakeholders all across the country. There is no cost to attend the event.

    State Approved CEUs Reciprocity Via Status
    Alabama 10 (PH, R&D, REG) Approved
    Arizona 7 (PMD) Approved
    California 4.25 (a), 0.5 (b) Approved
    Colorado 2 Approved
     Florida 3.5 (PH) & 1 (Core) Approved
    Georgia 4 (Category 41) Approved
    Nevada 5.5 (General) Approved
    Oklahoma 3 (Category 8) AR, IN, KS, LA, MN, NE, NM, TX Approved
     Oregon 4 (2 per session) Approved
    Pennsylvania 4.5 Pending
     Utah 3 Approved
     Washington 4 Approved
     Wyoming 3.5 Approved

Approval is pending for Pennsylvania, and is expected soon. CEUs will be tracked using a personalized login page. The page will give attendees access to the meeting and will time stamp their entry. To complete verification, attendees will receive a short questionnaire with a prompt to enter a code given at the end of the presentations. As many as 500 participants are expected to attend the summit, and partial or full credit can be earned for attending all or some of the WALS sessions.

Adulticide Resistance, Operations Info, and Real-World Data

Six hours of content over a seven-hour span have been developed for the event, including case studies, equipment, and operations presentations by experts across the country. The program begins at 9:00 AM Central and concludes at 4:00 PM.

The speaker list is a who’s who of Public Health innovators who worked to co-develop WALS as an operational control strategy for container mosquitoes in the US as far back as 2010.

The program will again be hosted by Dr. Kesavaraju and Leanne Lake. Lake, Kesavaraju and Peter DeChant, VBC Global Technical Manager, worked alongside Public Health programs  on WALS operational implementations in Florida, California, Utah, New York, New Jersey, and other states. The morning sessions will begin with lectures on the basics of container mosquito biology, the effects of the biorational larvicide Bacillus thuringiensis spp. israelensis (Bti) and why it qualifies as an input for WALS applications, and operational case studies from Districts who have integrated  WALS into their Public Health programs.

Dr. Isik Unlu, Operations Manager for Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control Division in Florida, will kick off with a presentation about the inherent challenges associated with container-inhabiting invasive mosquitoes including widespread resistance to adulticides and the cryptic nature of their breeding sites. Unlu will report on her experience in operations and WALS strategy optimization during and since the 2016 Zika outbreak in Miami-Dade, including data surrounding the importance and impact of proper droplet size in WALS applications. Unlu will be followed on the agenda by Casey Parker, Technical Development Specialist from ADAPCO, who will dive deeper into the insecticide susceptibility status of Florida mosquito populations.

Seleena Benjamin, VBC Manager Asia/India Region, who pioneered the use of WALS for container mosquito control in response to endemic dengue in South East Asia, will present next. Benjamin will provide background on the origins and evolution of WALS research and strategy. Benjamin will be followed by Andrea Leal, Executive Director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, who was part of the team that implemented the first aerial WALS application globally of VectoBac WDG biorational larvicide in 2010 after the Keys experienced its first locally acquired dengue cases in 75 years.

The morning session will close with field data and operational use presentations. Dr. Keira Lucas, Director of Research at Collier County Mosquito District in Florida, will lead a presentation on cutting edge research surrounding use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in WALS applications. She will be followed by Dr. Grayson Brown, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit, who will recap implementation of the WALS strategy in Puerto Rico.

After a Q&A session and a break for lunch, the afternoon session will start with a review of standard operational procedures for WALS by Ms. Lake. For those new to WALS, Leanne’s presentation will go into greater detail on 1) parameters to consider when choosing which WALS application approach to pursue, 2), technical aspects of backpack, truck-mounted and aerial equipment options, 3) proper equipment calibration, and 4) a range of mixing methods/equipment.

Samer Elkashef, Assistant Manager of the Sac-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District and Dr. Jennifer Henke, Laboratory Manager of the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District in California, will then present field trial data for WALS applications in their state. Elkasef and Henke have been leading early investigations on use of WALS not only for container Aedesspecies but also Culex mosquitoes that inhabit difficult to find/access larval habitats. Dr. Mark Clifton, Executive Director of the North Shore Mosquito Abatement District in Illinois, will round out the presentations with an exploration of WALS truck-mounted applications within a relative new target habitat for WALS.

An open discussion/Q&A with the expert panel will occupy the final hour of the program, concluding at 4:00 PM.

Register below for this one-of-a-kind event: