Vector Control Assessment Blog
Date posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2022 - 16:00
Blog poster: NEHA's Vector Program Committee
Vector control programs vary considerably across the United States. Mosquito surveillance and control tend to be funded more often that tick surveillance and control, but these programs are all largely underfunded in many areas. The ability to do surveillance and control of both mosquitoes and ticks is very dependent on the accessibility of support. The goal of all programs is to keep mosquito and tick numbers low and to be better prepared for the next mosquito-borne disease to emerge. However, these goals are not attainable without sustainable funding.
Prior to the introduction of West Nile Virus (WNV) into the US in 1999, public health departments rarely had funding to support mosquito control activities, and well-funded mosquito control agencies were largely found where mosquito populations impacted tourism or other economic considerations. When Zika Virus (ZIKV) was introduced into the Americas, funding was again made available to support infrastructure that had been built while there was funding for WNV surveillance. Unfortunately, these funding sources for mosquito-borne disease response are not sustainable, especially for trained personnel, and only limited funding has been made available for tick surveillance in most areas.
Although there was no survey done prior to the distribution of WNV funding, the NACCHO Vector Control Assessment survey results from 2020 did show an increase in the ability of states to do mosquito surveillance since 2017 when the first survey was done. While there are severe limitations to self-reported data that are not independently verified, these types of surveys can provide a baseline and can help track changes in activities over time.
The 2020 NACCHO Survey does show a positive change in programs that are fully capable when compared to the 2017 survey. These surveys bracketed the distribution and cessation of ZIKV funding through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Grant, the CDCs national funding strategy to support state, local and territorial capacities for emerging infectious disease control. This certainly suggests that funding is important. Core capacities and supplemental capacities related to Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) were assessed in both surveys, with results compared (NACCHO 2020 Vector Assessment Report, p16). A tick funding baseline is provided by the 2020 survey; this showed inconsistent funding, as well as limited infrastructure, guidance, and institutional capacity prevented local and state programs from expanding their tick surveillance and control activities.
What conclusions can be drawn from these surveys? While there was an increase in capacity to do mosquito surveillance and control between 2017 and 2020, most of the increase was in mosquito control districts; these generally have local or state support due to economic concerns. The conclusion was that most programs could benefit from additional support to build and sustain surveillance and control. It is important to note that these data look at countrywide trends. Local needs may be more immediate. Additionally, while the results hint at the availability of trained personnel to do the various tasks, this item is not specifically addressed. Programs do require people after all. However, these surveys, even with their limitations, should be required reading for decision-makers, along with data from their local state, county, and city vector surveillance and control programs, when they consider vector surveillance and control needs.
This blog is brought to you by NEHA's Vector Program Committee. Special thank you to Rosmarie Kelly, PhD.
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect the policy, endorsement, or action of NEHA or the organization where the author is employed. NEHA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.