Thursday, 3 February 2011

The biology and control of dengue virus

Session 4: The biology and control of dengue virus: Immune responses, disease dynamics and genetic modification of the mosquito vector

This session included a 3-part panel with leading researchers, Dr. Dr. Aravinda Desilva, Dr. Katia Koelle and Dr. Fred Gould addressing various aspects of vector borne disease related to dengue.

Dr. Aravinda Desilva, is a Microbiologist and immunologist from UNC-CH who talk summarized the pathogenesis of dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever from a global perspective. He concluded his segment with a discussion on the current state of dengue vaccine development.

Dr. Katia Koelle, a Professor of Biology at Duke University has focused on her work with the mathematical modeling of the disease ecology of the dengue virus. Her presentation served to provide a basic understanding of compartmental disease models, a description of her immunity and immunologic interactions between dengue’s four serotypes, and an evaluation of how mathematical modeling can inform vaccination strategies.

Dr. Fred Gould, a professor at NC State University, specializes in apply genetic engineering to the management of disease causing arthropod vectors. He discussed the basics behind transgenic strategies for manipulating mosquito populations as well as the ethical and operational issues related to their use.

A summary of the discussion questions from students, faculty, professionals, community members, and other attendees are below:

1. What are the potential detrimental environmental impact of eradicating mosquitos. (ie, do they perform some beneficial function to the ecosystem as a whole)

2. What is the potential for DENV and YF to jump to another arthopod vector if mosquitos are eliminated? Similarly, what is the likelihood that a virus other than dengue can enter that ecologic niche if dengue is eliminated?

3. What are options for disease control apart from vector annihilation? (ie, sanitation, housing etc) What is the most cost effective?

From a One Health perspective, all three speakers were able to effectively illustrate the intermingling of environmental effects and human behavior on the natural history of dengue virus infection in humans.