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Modeling climatic and environmental linkages to the dengue virus vector mosquito Aedes Aegypti in Mexico
Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Dengue viruses circulate between mosquito vectors and humans, causing an estimated 100 million dengue infections annually. In the last decade, the Americas have experienced a dramatic increase in severe dengue fever cases, with devastating public health consequences. Of particular concern is the potential for the expansion of intense dengue virus transmission into cooler, high altitude cities that are presently outside of transmission zones but may be at risk under scenarios of climate change, such as Mexico City. To address this problem we are employing a coupled natural and human systems approach to explore the ecology of Aedes (Ae.) aegypti, the mosquito vector of dengue, in Mexico. A field study has been conducted along a transect from Veracruz City to Puebla City, ranging from relatively warm and wet low-elevation coastal environments with well established vector mosquito populations and intense dengue virus transmission, to comparatively cool and dry high-elevation mountainous areas which currently are free of the mosquito vector and local virus transmission. At approximately 1,000 households along the transect we have measured how climatic, socio-economic and infrastructure factors are coupled with Ae. aegypti pupal abundance. These data are now being synthesized to develop a number of explanatory models to examine if, how, and why the range of the dengue vector Ae aegypti may change in the future. An overview of our modeling efforts will be given in this presentation, with the goal of stimulating discussion, criticism and insight on the physically-based and empirical modeling approaches we are employing.