BigMosquitoBytes
Project duration: 
Nov 2019 to Nov 2021

By developing an innovative data management system and advanced software, which incorporates large databases with key information and the citizenry as an active source of information, we will contribute to a change in the model in decision-making by part of the agents that monitor and control the populations of mosquitoes transmitting diseases in Catalonia and Spain and the main epidemiological determinants.

Introduction

Spain stands at a crossroads. The expansion of Ae.albopictus throughout the Iberian Peninsula and the arrival of Ae.aegypti in the Canary Islands have increased the risk of serious outbreaks of dengue, chikungunya, or Zika, in Spain. With hundreds of imported cases already co-present with vectors, and autochthonous dengue transmissions confirmed in 2018, it is only a matter of time before Spain is faced with a serious public health crisis. Yet Spain lacks reliable information about disease risk patterns and the dynamics of potential outbreaks. This project will fill this gap by bringing together experts in epidemiology, entomology, big data, movement ecology and sociodemography to build an innovative system that can harness the data revolution for public health preparedness. It will produce vital, comprehensive, actionable knowledge about mosquito-borne disease (MBD) risks and potential outbreaks in Spain. It will fuse multiple big data sources and employ cutting edge modelling and infrastructure to: (1) explore determinants and distribution of MBD risk, (2) illuminate links between social inequality and MBDs, (3) infer the role of human mobility in MBD risk, (4) ensure continuous model calibration and update, and (5) deliver real time models to public health agencies. The system will give decision-makers the information they need, while also making raw data and open source code available for continuous improvement through open innovation.

Our consortium includes (i) the team behind Mosquito Alert, the pioneering citizen science system that delivers real-time intelligence on tiger mosquitoes to public health agencies in Spain, (ii) Spain's core epidemiological experts, which collect and analyze human cases on mosquito-borne disease throughout the country, (iii) entomologists implementing vector control in Spain, and (iv) socio-demographers at the forefront of research using mobile phones and other big data sources to explore human-mosquito encounter rates. Centralized surveillance systems and public health agencies with limited resources may not be sufficiently operational to give an adequate response to a new threat of this type.