An Inside Look at NACCHO’s Vector Surveillance and Control Workshops

Feb 27, 2019 | Michelle Shapiro

In response to the 2017 Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, NACCHO hosted two Vector Surveillance and Control Workshops in partnership with the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The goal of the workshops was to increase the capacity of low-resource jurisdictions affected by the 2017 hurricanes to detect, prevent, prepare for, and respond to vector-borne diseases.

Local vector control programs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas were invited to attend one of the two workshops. The first workshop on January 8-9, 2019 in Charleston, SC had 42 attendees, and the second workshop on January 15-16, 2019 in Montgomery, AL had 37 attendees.

Day One: Vector Surveillance and Control

The first day of the workshops covered vector surveillance and control best practices, with half the day spent on each topic. Presenters shared practical knowledge and techniques to assist local vector control programs in performing standardized surveillance techniques and using control methods in a responsible way based on surveillance data.

Here are a few takeaways from day one:

  • Assess your jurisdiction’s demographics and geography to figure out who you need to protect, taking into account urban vs. rural areas, seasonal residents (tourists), etc.
  • Use the resources available to you. Engage with partners, including state and local health departments, industry, CDC’s Centers of Excellence in Vector-borne Disease, etc. Use online resources like ArboNET for surveillance.
  • Keeping records is essential. CDC’s MosquitoNet has Excel spreadsheets for download if you do not already have your own record-keeping system.
  • Records are especially important after a storm. FEMA only provides public assistance funding for the increased cost of mosquito abatement (i.e., the amount that exceeds the average cost based on expenses in the same period over the last three years). If you do not have those records, you are not eligible for assistance.
  • When placing traps consider safety (not hazardous to kids or pets), security, accessibility, site conditions, and species.
  • Surveillance and control go together. You should not use up resources with surveillance if there will be no follow-up action.
  • When collecting mosquitoes for resistance testing, adults are easier to collect but harder to identify. Collecting eggs using ovitraps is ideal.

View day one presentations for more details:

Part of Dr. McAllister’s presentation on pesticide resistance included a demonstration of a bottle bioassay. Watch an excerpt of this demonstration:

Day Two: Tabletop Exercises

The second day of the workshop integrated basic information from the AMCA Best Practices for Integrated Mosquito Management manual into the first day’s exercises. Attendees participated in relevant case studies; formulated intelligent and insightful questions about techniques discussed; and adapted new information during discussions to apply to real-world situations.

Day two included many interactive activities, including a final capstone during which participants reviewed earlier case study activities on mapping, action threshold, control, monitoring, reporting, and resistance to answer questions on expected barriers to routine mosquito surveillance and potential control strategies.

These are a few of the participant takeaways from the capstone:

  • Have data to support emergency response requests.
  • Have the spray map ready and prepared ahead of time, before a storm.
  • Foster continuous support and learning.
  • Conduct resistance testing and use bottle bioassays.
  • Engage the public through health fairs, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, homeowners’ associations, etc.
  • Be patient with the public.

Workshop Outcomes

By the end of the workshop, NACCHO hoped participants would be able to…

  1. Describe the key components of a vector surveillance program specific to local vectors and vector-borne diseases.
  2. Define the equipment and resources needed to establish a sustainable surveillance program.
  3. Describe a range of suitable collection methods for relevant vectors.
  4. Describe the process of vector identification including the basics for vector-borne disease testing.
  5. Define best practices for data collection, record keeping, and management.
  6. Explain various methods of vector control and circumstances under which each control method might be used.
  7. Understand the basics of pesticide resistance and how to prevent it. Describe how to monitor for emergence of resistance.
  8. Describe the pathway for using vector surveillance data to make decisions to decrease the human risk for vector-borne diseases.

NACCHO sent out an evaluation after the workshops, filled out by 14 people from the Charleston workshop (33% response rate) and 17 people from the Montgomery workshop (46% response rate).

In both workshop evaluations, most participants strongly agreed that the workshop met their expectations; 93% of respondents from the Charleston workshop and 88% of respondents from Montgomery agreed or strongly agreed that they would use the information provided during the workshop to improve their work.

Here are a few comments from the evaluations:

“Surveillance is the key that drives our activities. All forms of documentation are useful in making decisions for control activities. There were professionals in the room that shared their knowledge and experiences with everyone and this information will be useful for mosquito control programs.”

“Great information on what actually happens in the field.”

“I think this workshop elevated my knowledge level and will help me better improve my county’s program. This was a fantastic opportunity for me, and I feel I walked away with an abundance of useful information.”

“Some of the presentation/talks changed the way of thinking in our department.”

“No one in Alabama is doing resistance testing, so I am very excited to learn this procedure so that I can implement it in my area and hopefully train others.”

Learn more about the workshops and see workshop presentations here.

2019 Vector Summit

Want more vector control training? Registration is now open for NACCHO’s second annual Vector Summit, to be held on April 16-18, 2019 in Pittsburgh. The Summit will build on information shared at the workshops, focusing on both mosquito and tick surveillance and control in a collaborative learning environment suitable for all levels.

Applications for travel scholarships are open until March 5. Learn more and register for this free event here.


About Michelle Shapiro

Michelle Shapiro is a communication specialist for the Environmental Health & Disability team at NACCHO.

More posts by Michelle Shapiro


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