Sep 19th 2016

Preventing the Zika Virus: Understanding and Controlling the Aedes Mosquito (FutureLearn)

Taught by:

Discover the science behind the Zika outbreak to understand how it is spread and can be controlled. The Zika virus is suspected to be the cause of cases of microcephaly in newborns in South America, and this outbreak has now been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization. With global attention towards this disease increasing rapidly, it is becoming clear that there is limited knowledge around how the carriers, or vectors, of Zika, are best avoided and controlled.

Focus on the Zika virus

This free online course will begin by considering the science behind the outbreak to try to understand where the Zika virus has come from, its symptoms, and its effect on infected individuals. Our attention will then turn towards the vector primarily responsible for transmission of Zika: the Aedes mosquito.

Explore the biology of Aedes mosquitoes

We will introduce the Aedes mosquito and examine its lifecycle, behaviour, and distribution across the world, before reflecting upon the important role it plays in spreading Zika virus. Without a vaccine, prevention and control relies on reducing numbers of mosquitoes and the contact they have with people, so an understanding of the biology of Aedes is vital.

Discover vector control methods

A range of methods employed to control the Aedes mosquito will be highlighted, including the use, importance, and suitability of repellents, impregnated clothing, larval control, insecticide spraying, and insecticide treated nets. The vectors of Zika virus also transmit dengue, yellow fever and the chikungunya virus, meaning there is potential to apply these techniques in other settings.

Learn together and from those on the front line in South America

Learners will come from all over the world with their own diverse experiences and interests. You will have the opportunity to exchange thoughts and ideas through course discussion, and hear first-hand accounts from experts and individuals working in the field in South America. Contributors include:

- Dr Mary Cameron, Reader in Medical Entomology

- Dr Jo Lines, Reader of Malaria Control and Vector Biology

- Professor Laura Rodrigues, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and working with the Microcephaly Epidemic Research Group in Brazil

- Professor Jimmy Whitworth, Professor of International Public Health.