Examining Culex tarsalis (Diptera: Culicidae) population changes with satellite vegetation index data



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Kansas State University


A zoonotic disease is any disease or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans. Over 200 zoonoses have been described (Zoonoses and the Human-Animal-Ecosystems Interface, 2013). Many zoonotic viruses are arboviruses, viruses transmitted by an infected, blood-sucking, arthropod vector (Hunt, 2010). There are several endemic arboviruses in the United States; some foreign arboviruses, such as Rift Valley fever (RVF) virus, are potential bioterrorism agents (Dar, 2013). Arboviruses, both endemic and foreign, threaten public health (Gubler, 2002) and therefore disease surveillance, vector control and public education are all vital steps in minimizing arboviral disease impact in the United States. Mosquito-borne disease threats, such as West Nile virus and Rift Valley fever, are constant concerns in the United States and globally. Current strategies to prevent and control mosquito-borne diseases utilize vector distribution, seasonal and daylight timing, and variation in population numbers. Climate factors, such as availability of still water for development of immature mosquitoes, shade, and rainfall, are known to influence population dynamics of mosquitoes. Using 1995-2011 mosquito population surveillance data from Fort Riley, Kansas, we compared population numbers of Culex tarsalis (Diptera: Culicidae), a vector of several arboviruses including West Nile virus and potentially Rift Valley fever, to a satellite-derived index of climate, the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly. No correlation between the population numbers and NDVI anomaly was observed, which contrasts with results from similar analyses in other locations. These findings suggest a need for continued investigation into mosquito population dynamics in additional ecological regions of the United States to better describe the heterogeneity of environment-population relationships within and among mosquito species.



Culex tarsalis, Rift valley fever, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Mosquito population

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Master of Public Health


Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology

Major Professor

Michael W. Sanderson