Aedes control – image courtesy Mr. Dany Krom

GAINESVILLE, FL – New research co-authored by UF Geography’s Dr. Sadie Ryan and Ms. Cat Lippi sheds light on the climate suitability for Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitos and transmission rates of Zika, chikungunya, and dengue fever.

The study, published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases compares new data driven models of Zika, chikungunya, and dengue fever transmission to real world measurements of human infections caused by bites from Aedes aegypti and Ae. Albopictus mosquitoes. These models confirm that temperature is the single most important factor for predicting the rate and geographic spread of epidemics of these mosquito-borne diseases. Temperature influences transmissibility in many ways – affecting the lifespan of an individual mosquito, and determining biting frequency and the reproductive rate of the virus within the mosquito.

The collaborative research team includes experts in epidemiology, public health, ecology, mathematical modeling, and geography, and was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease program (NSF-DEB 1518681).

Ryan Lab Fall 2016. Image courtesy Dr. Sadie Ryan.
Ryan Lab Fall 2016. Image courtesy Dr. Sadie Ryan.

This summer, Geography’s Ryan Lab and the Emerging Pathogens Institute were proud to host Lauren Fregosi as a summer research intern working on Dr. Sadie Ryan‘s National Science Foundation’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (NSF EEID) grant. The internship, which was offered through the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, was focused on modelling approaches on the effects of climate, land use, and socioeconomic conditions on vector-borne disease transmission.

Ms. Fregosi is a native of Long Island’s south shore, and is a rising senior at Syracuse University (class of 2017), pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology, with a minor in Applied Statistics, and conducting research at SU’s Falk School of Public Health. She was excited to work with the Ryan Lab because of her passionate interest in vectorborne disease control. This work built on her existing experience working on a project analyzing biting rates of different mosquito species and urbanization in Ecuador, at the Falk School of Public Health. Fregosi has enjoyed learning multiple strategies for organizing, analyzing, and describing datasets, in R, developing models in both R and GARP, and becoming well versed with GIS, and ArcGIS model builder.

When not polishing her GIS skills, Ms. Fregosi donates her free time volunteering at Syracuse’s Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and Habitat for Humanity. She also organizes phlanthropic activities, community projects, and fundraisers for her sorority.

The Department of Geography thanks Lauren for all of her hard work this summer, and wishes her luck in her continued studies!

Aedes_aegypti_bloodfeeding_CDC_Gathany
Aedes Aegypti mosquito, jentavery, (CC BY 2.0)

GAINESVILLE, Florida — Dr. Sadie Ryan (Assistant Professor of Medical Geography in the Department of Geography and UF’s Emerging Pathogen Institute) and colleagues, have just received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) Program rapid response, or RAPID grant to study the socio-ecology and climate responses of Zika virus transmission by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in southern coastal Ecuador. By analyzing blood samples, deploying climate sensors, and conducting socio-ecological surveys, the researchers will gain insight into the spread of Zika as climate, altitude and socioeconomic levels change.

The research team has extensive experience studying vector-borne illness in Ecuador. Lab work will be based at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE), which was recently ranked as Ecuador’s top research institution in Nature Publishing Group’s 2016 Annual Index.

The collaborative research team includes experts in epidemiology, public health, ecology, entomology, mathematical modeling, and geography: co-principal investigator Sadie Ryan (University of Florida), lead investigator Anna Stewart Ibarra (SUNY Upstate Medical University), co-principal investigator Marco Neira (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE)), and Timothy Endy (SUNY Upstate Medical University). The work expands upon Dr. Ryan’s prior work with the Center for Global Health & Translational Science at SUNY-Upstate Medical University.

MORRIS, BLACKBURN – Elk resource selection and implications for anthrax management in Montana

Lillian R. Morris, Kelly M. Proffitt, Valpa Asher and Jason K. Blackburn

Article first published online: 6 Nov 2015 The Journal of Wildlife Management

DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.1016

ABSTRACT: Anthrax, caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis, is a zoonotic disease that affects humans and animals throughout the world. In North America, anthrax outbreaks occur in livestock and wildlife species. Vaccine administration in wildlife is untenable; the most effective form of management is surveillance and decontamination of carcasses. Successful management is critical because untreated carcasses can create infectious zones increasing risk for other susceptible hosts. We studied the bacterium in a re-emerging anthrax zone in southwest Montana. In 2008, a large anthrax epizootic primarily affected a domestic bison (Bison bison) herd and the male segment of a free-ranging elk (Cervus elaphus) herd in southwestern Montana. Following the outbreak, we initiated a telemetry study on elk to evaluate resource selection during the anthrax season to assist with anthrax management. We used a mixed effects generalized linear model (GLM) to estimate resource selection by male elk, and we mapped habitat preferences across the landscape. We overlaid preferred habitats on ecological niche model-based estimates of B. anthracis presence. We observed significant overlap between areas with a high predicted probability of male elk selection and B. anthracis potential. These potentially risky areas of elk and B. anthracis overlap were broadly spread over public and private lands. Future outbreaks in the region are probable, and this analysis identified the spatial extent of the risk area in the region, which can be used to prioritize anthrax surveillance. © 2015 The Wildlife Society.

Read the full publication at The Journal of Wildlife Management

GEO3930 Peoples and Plagues
GEO3930 Peoples and Plagues

During this course, the world’s population will reach 7.4 billion.
One third will be TB positive; 300-500 million will have malaria;
more than 35 million will live with HIV/AIDS.
Multi-drug resistance in urban settings, climate change, and disease-related mortality are going to impact your near future.

GAINESVILLE, Florida — A new 5 year multi-institutional collaborative research grant of $1.85 million funded by the National Science Foundation’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (NSF EEID) program will support research on the effect of temperature on 13 different diseases transmitted by insects. It will also measure the capacity for two common disease-carrying mosquitoes in the Americas to adapt to new (or changing) temperatures.

Many of the world’s most devastating and neglected infectious diseases are spread to people by mosquitoes and other insects. Malaria, a mosquito-transmitted parasite, kills over 650,000 people each year. Dengue fever, an incurable mosquito-borne virus, infects around 400 million people annually, a rate which has grown dramatically in recent decades. With limited options for medical treatment or vaccination, preventing infection is the best way to control these diseases. This approach requires understanding—and predicting—how the climate affects mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.

“If we want to predict the spread of mosquito-transmitted diseases, we have to learn how these insects and pathogens respond to the environment and changing climate,” says Dr. Sadie Ryan, Assistant Professor of Medical Geography at the University of Florida and co-principal investigator on the project. “We will improve on our existing predictive models by validating them with real data. Integrating field data on local conditions with mapped model predictions will enable us to understand the multiscalar dynamics of climate-disease relationships”

Dr. Ryan (UF) and Dr. Anna Stewart Ibarra, Assistant Professor of Medicine at SUNY-Upstate Medical University will launch a new field project component in Ecuador. They will be adding new sites to their previous collaborative research on climate-dengue dynamics, starting the first of five years supported under this grant, with the onset of the coming dengue season.

“This is a critical component of the research,” says Dr. Stewart Ibarra, leader of the Ecuador field team. “Testing new and existing models on the ground in dengue-endemic areas will be a big step towards improving the science behind vector control and public health.”

The collaborative research team includes experts in epidemiology, public health, ecology, entomology, mathematical modeling, and geography: co-principal investigator Sadie Ryan (University of Florida), lead investigator Erin Mordecai (Stanford University), Anna Stewart Ibarra (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Matt Thomas (Penn State University), Leah Johnson and Jason Rohr (University of South Florida), Van Savage (UCLA), Marco Neira (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE)), and other collaborators in Ecuador. The work expands upon Dr. Ryan’s prior work at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Center for Global Health & Translational Science at SUNY-Upstate Medical University.

The team will begin work this year to develop temperature-sensitive transmission models and fit them with data from published sources for 13 vector-borne diseases: vivax malaria, trypanosomiasis, dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, West Nile, Eastern equine encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, Rift Valley fever, Ockelbo (Sindbis) disease, Ross River fever, and bluetongue. By studying this suite of diseases, the team hopes to uncover general patterns of temperature responses across multiple insects and pathogens.

See the press release for more information on the newly funded projects in the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Program, a joint program of the U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.K. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.