Fall 2007 Grant Recipient
Bloomberg School of Public Health, MPH program
Various entomological collection methods provide indicators that are used to monitor and evaluate malaria transmission and the impact of vector control interventions. A number of methods have been used in sampling mosquitoes for the purpose of estimating the entomological inoculation rate (EIR) but each has disadvantages and is subject to some bias. Although human landing catches are considered to provide the most reliable indication of human exposure to bites of malaria-infected mosquitoes, this technique puts the collector at risk for contracting the disease. Although considerable efforts have been made to find more acceptable alternatives that are comparably sensitive, specific, and reproducible as human landing catches, a suitable replacement has yet to emerge. The goal of this project is to evaluate the ability of a novel surveillance tool, the BG-SentinelTM trap, to collect Anopheles arabiensis Patton, the primary vector of Plasmodium falciparum in southern Zambia. The utility of this novel trap for the surveillance of An. arabiensis will be evaluated relative to human landing catches based on three parameters, effectiveness in collecting An. arabiensis, mosquito parity, and sporozoite rates.
My experience in Zambia enabled me to conduct vector-borne disease research in an international setting for the first time. Despite having a graduate degree in medical entomology and a number of years experience working domestically in vector control, nothing could have prepared me for the difficult reality of studying the epidemiology of malaria transmission in Africa. The extreme environmental conditions, primitive roads, cultural and language barriers, long hours, and limited supplies were all challenges that I had to surmount. I was fortunate however to complete my research project at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute (JHMRI) in Macha, Zambia, where I had access to a relatively modern laboratory, transportation, equipment and supplies. Perhaps more importantly, I had the opportunity to work with and learn from local researchers, whose input and assistance was invaluable.
During my time in Zambia I also had the opportunity to visit and experience the local health-system structure first hand, where I was able to understand the framework within which physicians and other health workers identify public health problems, and develop and implement interventions. As a student with career ambitions of contributing to international efforts to reduce the global impact of vector-borne diseases, my time in Zambia was invaluable. I am looking forward to returning to Africa in the near future as I continue to pursue my studies of malaria transmission with respect to defining better surveillance and control strategies.
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