This proposal details establishment of the Upper Midwestern Center of Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases (MCE-VBD) in response to CDC RFA-CK-17-005. The MCE-VBD includes accomplished and enthusiastic partners from academic, public health, and vector control institutions in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan and Iowa. The broad and long term goal of the Center is to incentivize new and expanded interactions between experts in the region so that responses to endemic and epidemic vector borne disease are improved and accelerated. To achieve this goal, the project is focused on three major objectives: 1) Increase the opportunities for training in public health entomology (PHE) for current practitioners and students. This objective will be achieved through graduate student training in PHE and through administration of a new Certificate of PHE, with a curriculum including workshops and short courses in vector identification, surveillance and control methods, pesticide application licensure and a la carte course options to be tailored to graduate level study including VBD diagnostics, model interpretation and translation, project management, and quality control. 2) Build a community of practice including public health and mosquito control experts at the county and district/municipal level, state public health experts, and academic scientists at research institution in each state. This goal will be achieved by establishing processes for information sharing between partners, developing evidence-based and region-specific public health messages, interacting to establish best practices for VBD and outbreak management, and standardizing region-wide surveillance for invasive vectors like Aedes albopictus and I. scapularis. This work will be facilitated through a public health advisory board, and will be amply supported so that the burden of new effort does not fall to PH. 3) Research to improve surveillance and responses to VBDs. For this aim, we will develop methods to improve predictions of disease emergence and outbreaks and to optimize surveillance networks and pathogen detection. We also will evaluate current methods of control for mosquitoes and ticks and will develop new tools to reduce human risks of exposure. Data from research projects will feed back into the tools developed to train PHE, and to outreach products for use with PH partners. Successful completion of these objectives will dramatically expand the ability of public health authorities in the Upper Midwest to detect and respond to new threats as well as provide a strongly supported evidence-based practice for management of vector-borne disease.
This project addresses issues of critical importance to management of vector-borne disease (VBD) in the United States, including those caused by viruses transmitted by mosquitoes (Zika, West Nile) as well as tick-borne pathogens like Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme Disease) and Rickettsia rickettsia (Rocky Mountain Spotted fever). Because the Midwest is a national hotspot for disease emergence and endemic transmission of VBD, we will establish The Upper Midwestern Center of Excellence in Vector-borne Disease, a truly regional center covering Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan and Iowa. Center activities will focus the efforts of a formidable group of nationally-recognized public health entomologists, epidemiologists, virologists, public health experts, and vector control staff to improve outbreak and emergent disease management as well as current surveillance and control practices. The goals include development of systems and processes for sharing information between federal, state and local public health, vector control operations and academic partners, developing and increasing access to training opportunities for current vector control professionals, testing and improving the evidence base for current methods of vector management, and bringing innovative research in health information systems, optimization science, and diagnostic development to bear on these issues. Results and conclusions will be directly relevant to both the major VBD issues of the region as well as broadly applicable to public health entomology in the United States.