USF researchers urge use of global dashboard in light of recent malaria cases

A look at one of the mosquitoes you would see around your house if there is a lot of standing...
A look at one of the mosquitoes you would see around your house if there is a lot of standing water especially.(KAIT)
Published: Jul. 18, 2023 at 1:41 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - There are seven confirmed cases of Malaria reported in Sarasota County, researchers at the University of South Florida are urging health officials to use a global dashboard.

Ryan Carney, assistant professor of integrative biology, and Sriram Chellappan, professor of computer science and engineering, developed, which utilizes data provided by ordinary citizens and artificial intelligence to identify the location and species of disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Funded in part by the National Science Foundation, the public dashboard serves as an aggregation of data from multiple smartphone apps, including NASA’s GLOBE Observer, iNaturalist and Mosquito Alert, where people are encouraged to be “citizen scientists” and upload photos of any mosquitoes that they find. The data from each app is displayed on the dashboard, which features an interactive map that allows users to analyze mosquitoes near them and around the world.

“It would be phenomenal for citizen scientists in Sarasota County and beyond to download and use our partner apps,” Carney said. “Citizen scientists with smartphones can serve as extra sets of eyes to help monitor these malaria mosquitoes, in locations and at a scale otherwise impossible via traditional mosquito trapping methods. Importantly, by contributing valuable data on exactly where these malaria mosquitoes are found in their community, everyday citizens can help guide local mosquito surveillance and control programs.”

The group uses more than a half a million images to allow its algorithm to identify the mosquitoes very quickly. Alerts can then be sent to local health departments.

In Tampa Bay, the team recently examined the abundance and ecological drivers of Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that carries dengue, yellow fever and Zika. They hope their study will serve as a framework for leveraging mosquito abundance data to inform habitat models and local control efforts. With that, the team will further examine the abundance of mosquitoes capable of transmitting malaria in Florida and Texas.