Kliniken &… Institute Heidelberger Institut… Groups & Projects Working Groups

Vector Borne Diseases and Geo Health

The research group Vector-borne Diseases and Geo Health looks at the various impacts of vector-borne diseases on public health. Current foci of the group are mosquito borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, Chikungunya, yellow fever and lymphatic filariasis in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Besides vector ecology and entomology, we research the geographical determinants of disease transmission, and test new approaches to efficiently control vector populations.


Vector-borne diseases and their public health relevance

Vector borne diseases are human illnesses caused by parasites, viruses and bacteria that are transmitted by a wide variety of vector animals, including mosquitoes, sandflies, ticks, triatomine bugs, and snails. Every year there are an estimated 700,000 deaths worldwide that are caused by such diseases as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, Chikungunya, onchocerciasis, Chagas disease, and many others. Tropical and subtropical regions bear the highest burden for vector borne diseases, with economically disadvantaged populations being affected disproportionally. Besides continuous transmission during human history, human activity has shown a major impact on vector and disease dynamics, resulting in epidemic outbreaks that can heavily challenge the weak health infrastructure in many low and middle income countries.


Vector Ecology & Entomology

Vector populations are constantly exposed to natural and anthropogenically induced pressure, such as a changing climate, the availability of breeding and resting sites, insecticides and the introduction of control measures such as mosquito bed nets. Vectors are not only able to develop resistances against commonly used insecticides and render them ineffective, but changes in the distribution of prevailing mosquito species that show a different blood seeking behavior can constrain the usefulness of currently deployed control measures.


Geo Health

The spatial and temporal distribution of vector-borne diseases is determined by a complex set of environmental, demographic and social factors which include climate change, deforestation, urbanization, and global travel. With the help of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems, disease transmission dynamics and vector development can be analyzed spatially, and spatial statistics can contribute to identify areas with an increased transmission risk and guide the administration of vector control interventions, tailored to local needs.


Vector Control

Since the end of the DDT-era in the 1960s, vector control has come a long way, with the ultimate goal having shifted from vector eradication to a more realistic and preferrable vector control. In addition to the standard vector control approaches such as impregnated bed nets, indoor residual spraying and space fumigation, we assess new techniques such as biological larviciding, aquatic predators, clothes impregnation and modifications of houses regarding their viability and cost-effectiveness.