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Gearing Up for Mosquito Season

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More than 17% of all infectious diseases are vector-borne, meaning these diseases are carried by living organisms and can be transmitted to humans.  Most of these diseases are from bloodsucking insects – and mosquitos are the most well-known.

According to the World Health Organization, vector-borne diseases carried by mosquitos account for nearly 1 million deaths each year. Breaking it down, throughout the world, more than 2.5 billion people in more than 100 countries are at risk of contracting Dengue. Malaria causes more than 600,000 deaths each year, and most are children under 5 years old.

When vector-borne disease outbreaks occur, fast, effective response protects people from infection and its consequences. Integrated pest management programs respond through the vital functions of prevention, surveillance, and control activities.

Our local government organizations are tasked with protecting the health of residents by managing operations to control mosquitoes because they can be vectors for transmitting disease, including Zika virus, West Nile, malaria and dengue fever. The ability to respond to potential issues and outbreaks quickly and effectively means a world of difference to these agencies and the communities they serve. Outbreaks from diseases such as these have captured the public’s attention and highlight growing concern about vector-borne diseases.

In the work that my company has done with organizations, we have found that there are typically 5 major challenges that stand in the way of protecting the health of residents:

Dealing with multiple systems - Many times, information comes to us in a variety of ways – phone calls, letters, and email. Having a single system of record for Call Center staff to collect and verify location information and capture other details from incoming requests is helpful for organizations. If there is one system of record for all requests, residents and the staff responsible at local organizations can submit and track information from any location from any device.

Accessing information – Organizations need to collect, maintain, and provide access to their authoritative information, helping to reduce the cost of field operations and maintenance activities. Using a secure system with controlled access, workers can use and update inspection information, again, from any location and any device.

Discovery – Employees, contractors and the public need to easily discover, use, make, and share information, on any device, anywhere, at any time. By sharing information about what is happening (where are measurements being taken, where is still water being reported), and results on analysis (how many more mosquitos were captured this year than last, what is the expected amount due to upcoming rainfall), the public and organization’s staff can work together on mosquito management activities.

Sharing & Collaboration - Sharing and collaborating between stakeholders and departments increases productivity. Sharing externally with the public increases transparency and improves the quality of services for citizens.

Analysis – Organizations make better decisions by transforming data into actionable information. This can include improving operational awareness when responding to a public request, outbreak or any other type of incident. Providing analytical capabilities ranging from basic tools to advanced scientific methods can help in analyzing field activities and the extent of a current outbreak.  Visualizing current status and surveillance information from authoritative sources as well as Social Media can also help everyone plan and respond effectively.

Vector-borne illnesses occur frequently and require an agile approach to keep them in check.  Successfully combating vector-borne disease requires a platform that can capture multiple, complementary areas of expertise among epidemiologists, entomologists, and health officials and staff. Keeping these challenges in mind when determining control efforts can help communities make better use of their resources and ultimately keep the citizens they serve better protected.

Christian Carlson is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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