Are the mosquitoes in Catalonia capable to transmit new emerging diseases?

The answer to this question is a key issue for the design of future prevention and control strategies to avoid both the introduction and dissemination of viral emerging diseases in our country, such the West Nile Fever and Chikungunya. This question pretends to be solved by CReSA researchers trough a research grant from RecerCaixa 2011 call.

Mosquitoes and emerging diseases

An increasing incidence of emergent diseases transmitted by mosquitoes is ongoing in several developed countries. Global warming, acceleration of globalization and the easy transport between countries allow the export and import of many of these diseases as well as their arthropod vectors. In particular, the European Union has already suffered several outbreaks and epidemics of two diseases that that are expected to be the study issue of the research project: West Nile Fever (WNF) and Chikungunya (CHIK).
As these diseases can be introduced from endemic areas by migratory birds and viraemic travelers, Catalonia is one of the European regions displaying a high risk of introduction for both diseases because of:

  •             an important demographic census
  •             a high tourist pressure
  •             “tiger mosquito” (Aedes albopictus) has been introduced in many areas of Catalonia, and
  •             there are three major wetlands with significant populations of both autochthonous and migratory birds.

Impact on society

These emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases threaten public health worldwide. Therefore, results from this project will be relevant for the Public Health system because they will:

  • allow to understand how the WNF and CHIK could affect Catalonia
  • help public authorities responsible for Public Health, Environment and Tourism to design future strategies to avoid introduction and dissemination of viral emerging diseases in our country.

Therefore, it will be possible to ascertain if certain mosquito populations are competent  against these diseases and also assess their sensitivity to insecticides to control them in case of alarm.
It is expected that the project will have a high impact on citizens, therefore, divulgation activities have been planned to disseminate the objectives and results to  public authorities  and general public: conferences, press reports, expositions, 2.0 web actions and training to students.

The  research team

Arboviruses and Arthropods Vectors (ARTROPOVIR) research group of CReSA, led by Dr. Nonito Pagès counts on entomologists, virologists, immunologists and laboratory technicians.  The main objective is to study interactions between the arthropods vectors of infectious diseases, the pathogen they transmit, and the host.
For some of these diseases, collaborations with the Catalan Government have been already established, such as the entomological and virological surveillance programs for WNF and Bluetongue disease. The group is also involved in European networks (MedReoNet: http://medreonet.cirad.fr, Arbo-Zoonet: http://www.arbo-zoo.net and ENIVD: http://www.enivd.de) for the study of the agents that cause some of the most relevant emerging and reemerging diseases worldwide: West Nile virus,  Chikungunya virus ad Rift Valley Fever virus.

The RecerCaixa programme

The RecerCaixa programme (http://www.recercaixa.cat) was launched jointly by la Caixa and the Associació Catalana d’Universitats Públiques (ACUP) to finance research projects developed by researchers from universities and research institutes of Catalonia. The call seeks two main aims: to stimulate the scientific research of excellence in our country and to bring the science over to the society. The 2011 call had a budget of €1.500.000, a total of 293 projects were submitted and only 23 of them were selected and financed.

To contact the principal investigator of this project:

Dr Nonito Pagès
Principal investigator of the research line Arboviruses and Arthropod Vectors
Email: nitu.pages@cresa.uab.cat
Pnone no.: +34 93 581 43 42
Fax: +34 93 581 44 90
Edifici CReSA. Campus UAB
08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona) Spain

To know more about RecerCaixa: http://www.recercaixa.cat

 
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