UND researchers release initial forecast for 2016 summer-mosquito-trap-counts
UND researchers release initial forecast for 2016 summer mosquito-trap counts
Joint effort with NDSU focusing on culex tarsalis, a female mosquito that’s responsible for West Nile Virus occurrences
Mitch Campion, a University of North Dakota graduate student in electrical engineering, and a research group headed up by UND Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Prakash Ranganathan in the College of Engineering and Mines has developed a model that forecasts summertime mosquito-trap-count numbers in Grand Forks County.
The UND model considers previous years’ of mosquito trap counts and weather data to make its predictions. It also uses data from two mosquito traps in Grand Forks County over the last six summers.
The current model shows a trap count of 1 for the current week and a count of 13 and 23 for the next two weeks. The peak for mosquito-trap numbers, according to the current model, will take place the week of Aug. 8, with 33, followed by a steady decline as it moves into late August. See Figure 1 below.
This is a joint effort between the state’s two research universities – UND and North Dakota State in Fargo. The principle investigators for the project are Ranganathan, UND Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering Naima Kaabouch and Professor Mark Boetel, with NDSU’s Entomology Department.
“Emerging infectious disease, such as WNV (West Nile Virus) incidence, is a key threat to conservation and public health, yet predicting and preventing their emergence is notoriously difficult,” Ranganathan said.
This work is in its preliminary stage, and currently, efforts are underway to improve the model accuracies by identifying other influential factors on trap counts, such as dead birds and tracking the culex pipiens species of mosquito. The primary vectors for WNV in the United States are mosquitoes of the culex genus, including culex tarsalis, culex pipiens and culex quinquefasciatus.
The research group also has plans to expand its model to other counties in North Dakota that includes these trap counts by developing risk maps. There will also be a revised predictions every two weeks on culex tarsalis count as it gets updated rainfall and temperature data. More predictions will be made and model results will be updated throughout this summer.
“This type of information is essential in assisting local mosquito-control efforts reduce the risk to the people,” said Todd Hanson,” Grand Forks’ mosquito control program manager.
The threat is very real, as a crow that had been infected with WNV was discovered recently in Grand Forks, according to information from local and regional health officials.
Ranganathan credits other mosquito research experts in the region for their assistance in developing more accurate prediction models, including Jeff Vaughn, UND Department of Biology; Scott Hanson from Turtle Mountain Reservation; Laura Cronquist, a regional surveillance epidemiologist; and Michelle Feist, program manager from the North Dakota Department of Health.
This research work also was made possible from a North Dakota’s NASA EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) grant program.