The importance of being urgent: the impact of surveillance target and scale on mosquito-borne disease control

Samantha R. Schwab, Chris M. Stone, Dina M. Fonseca, Nina H. Fefferman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the emergence or re-emergence of numerous mosquito-borne diseases in recent years, effective methods for emergency vector control responses are necessary to reduce human infections. Current vector control practices often vary significantly between different jurisdictions, and are executed independently and at different spatial scales. Various types of surveillance information (e.g. number of human infections or adult mosquitoes) trigger the implementation of control measures, though the target and scale of surveillance vary locally. This patchy implementation of control measures likely alters the efficacy of control. We modeled six different scenarios, with larval mosquito control occurring in response to surveillance data of different types and at different scales (e.g. across the landscape or in each patch). Our results indicate that: earlier application of larvicide after an escalation of disease risk achieves much greater reductions in human infections than later control implementation; uniform control across the landscape provides better outbreak mitigation than patchy control application; and different types of surveillance data require different levels of sensitivity in their collection to effectively inform control measures. Our simulations also demonstrate a potential logical fallacy of reactive, surveillance-driven vector control: measures stop being implemented as soon as they are deemed effective. This false sense of security leads to patchier control efforts that will do little to curb the size of future vector-borne disease outbreaks. More investment should be placed in collecting high quality information that can trigger early and uniform implementation, while researchers work to discover more informative metrics of human risk to trigger more effective control.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • INHS
  • Mosquito control
  • Disease surveillance
  • Epidemiological surveillance
  • Vector-borne disease control
  • Epidemiological modeling
  • Zika control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Epidemiology
  • Virology
  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology

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