Monitoring Windborne Migration of Disease Vectors, Pathogens, and Pests in Africa to Improve Public Health and Food Security (MWMDVPPiA)

A tethered helium balloon carrying sticky nets we have been using to intercept flying mosquitoes among other insects at altitude to monitor migrant activity, pathogens they carry, and impact on public health, food security, and ecosystem stability.

Credit: Taina Litwak, SEL-USDA

We are a diverse group committed to establishing a pan-African network of aerial sampling stations to monitor windborne movement of insect disease vectors, disease agents, agriculture pests and their enemies, and keystone species affecting ecosystem stability. The data produced will generate a spatio-temporal baseline for taxa of interest and evaluate changes in the risks to public health, food security, and ecosystem stability based on departures from these baselines.

Rooted in the One-Health paradigm, this project expands the human disease components to include animal and plant diseases both domestic and wild; all affecting health, food supply, and ecosystem stability. We are currently operating in Mali (since 2012), in Kenya (since 2018) and in Ghana (since 2020). We plan to expand our operation to other African countries.

Main Areas of Focus

  • Describe and map high-altitude long-distance migration of insect disease vectors, disease agents, agriculture pests, and their enemies in Africa
  • Assess the impact of such movements on public health and food security and the benefits of real-time monitoring of changes in migration pattern of select taxa and their implications
  • Build capacity in African countries
  • Improve integrated pest management (IPM), including spread of genes conferring insecticide resistance
  • Conduct biodiversity analysis of high-altitude flying organisms, including pathogen discovery

Contact Information

Featured Research

Since 2012, we have been using sticky nets (panels) mounted on tethered helium-filled balloons for aerial sampling of insects at 40-290 m above ground level in the Sahel in Mali. During that period, we collected approximately half a million insects, including approximately 3,000 mosquitoes, representing both primary and secondary vectors of malaria and other human and animal diseases


Read more about our research
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