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Cycle 1

Principal Investigator: Isra Wahid, Universitas Hasanuddin
NIH-Supported Collaborator: David Severson, University of Notre Dame
Title of NIH Award: Diapause in Culex mosquitoes
Project dates: October 2013 - April 2019

Project Overview

Arthropod-borne viruses are a concern in areas like Indonesia (an emerging pathogen ‘hotspot’) because of the ease with which vectors can transfer RNA viruses between wildlife, humans and livestock, and because of the large variety of pathogenic viruses already known to exist. However, there are no known records of these pathogenic viruses (such as West Nile, Sepik, Banna) in Indonesia though they are known to exist at similar latitudes. Dengue virus, present in Indonesia, is an emerging global health threat, and disease prevention depends completely on avoiding the mosquito host that transmits the virus from human to human. No other dengue disease prevention or treatment methods exist. Preliminary evidence suggests that there may be differences in allele frequencies related vector competence to transmit Dengue virus. This study seeks to understand the genetic composition of mosquito populations seasonally and among communities in order to predict levels of mosquito diversity and movement within and between communities, and to assess vector competence to transmit dengue viruses throughout a transmissions season. This study will make a survey of potentially pathogenic arboviruses from mosquitoes collected throughout Indonesia aimed at identifying viruses, their vectors, as well as temporal transmission characteristics towards discovery and informing intervention programs. The primary objective of this study is to survey for potentially pathogenic mosquito-borne arboviruses in their vectors to geographically map risk, estimate force of infection, and identify potential emerging pandemic threats. A secondary objective focusing on the dengue virus vector will investigate if there is a temporal change in the vector genotype with associated impacts on vector competence between the wet and dry seasons. This study will entail systematic collections of mosquitoes in all ecological zones prevalent on the island of Sulawesi. The study team will identify vectors to species to determine the diversity of mosquitoes and ID those known to harbor human pathogens. The researchers will also perform virus isolation in vertebrate cell cultures towards virus identification. Finally, the researchers will examine seasonal effects on Ae. aegypti population genetics and DENV susceptibility. It is expeced that the study team will collect circulating viruses that have never been recorded at these sites and the possibility exists of identifying novel viruses in the preliminary survey. Vector results will enable the characterization of geographic vector-virus transmission systems and will allow a better understanding of local dengue transmission and hence better intervention strategies.

PH 1-16 Indonesia photo 1PH 1-16 Indonesia photo 2
Mosquito capture nets placed between the village and the mosquito breeding site.Mosquito collection efforts by Dr. Wahid and his team (photo courtesy Dr. Wahid)

Summary of Recent Activities:

In the fourth quarter of 2018, the project team continued with its activities, including sample collection and analysis, manuscript preparation, outreach and collaborations, and engagement with policy makers. The team collected many mosquito samples in the areas of North Toraja, North Mamuju, and Pucak Maros, and they will continue to review and analyze the samples moving forward.

At the same time, the team also hosted several international and local counterparts keen on building partnerships and furthering their research. U.S. researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at Fort Collins and the Eijkman Institute for Acute Febrile Illness Study partnered with the research team to establish a field collection site for acute febrile illness in Makassar and surrounding areas. Likewise, researchers from Kitasato University in Japan joined the team during sample collection in North Toraja. Lastly, the group has been working with Google Verily, in collaboration with Surrey University, to support Google's 1000 Aedes Genome Project. Given the expanding scope of the work and international collaborations, Dr. Wahid was able to persuade the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Universitas Hasanuddin to expand the entomology lab and animal housing facilities.

The team also spent much of the period engaging with regional policy makers and using their data to impact the manner in which communities deal with disease outbreaks. On Sabang Island (north of Banda Aceh), the team advocated for outdoor vector control to reduce the risk of monkey malaria transmission to humans. In Makassar, they changed the vector control approach for dengue vectors by adding a pre-seasonal thermal fogging intervention to routine vector controls by Makassar DHO. The team also advocated to modify the routine SOP for insecticide bed-net distribution in North Toraja DHO by including people from malaria endemic area as the main targets alongside children and pregnant women. Lastly, they initiated a collaboration with the local government of West Sumba Regency for tropical neglected diseases in Sumba by visiting the head of the Sumba district with the dean of the medical faculty, Universitas Hasanuddin.

In addition to the direct impact of their work on local governments, the team has been hard at work on manuscripts and securing future funding to continue their research once the PEER project ends in April 2019. Three manuscripts were submitted, one on the evidence of a new species of An. Maculatus, one on dengue vector control in Makassar, and the last on an intestinal parasite of Macaca maura from Sulawesi. In terms of funding, the team submitted proposals to the Medical Research Council (UK) in collaboration with the Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education (RISTEKDIKTI) and received funding to conduct a three-year field study on Sulawesi Island on pathogen exchange (human-monkey-mosquito) in human-wildlife interfaces. Further funds were secured from JSPS (Japan) for a three-year project on the exploration of natural bio-resources in collaboration with Kitasto University, Japan.

Health Cycle 1 Recipients