Dr. Abdallah Samy (Ain Shams University, Cairo): mapping the global potential distributions of two a


Dr. Abdallah Samy is a researcher based in the Entomology Department of the Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt. Dr. Samy's research addresses several questions at the interface of ecology, epidemiology, public health, and global health, and his lab are keen to pursue interdisciplinary and multi-faceted approaches to research questions. In recent work, Dr. Samy and colleagues have focused on arboviruses and mosquito-borne diseases, in the aim of developing disease forecast (in particular dengue), understanding the major drivers of disease spread, and identifying the possible shifts at disease risk in response to global warming in future.

In this Infectious Thoughts interview, Dr. Samy speaks more specifically about recent work on modelling the global distribution of the vectors of arboviral diseases under changing climate, what can be learned from this to improve global public health strategies for dengue control for the forthcoming decades, and which knowledge gaps remain to be addressed given complex climatic change.

Your recent work has focused on mapping the current and predicted global distribution of two vectors of arboviral diseases, the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus - why did you choose to look closely at these particular species? What are the public health priorities of improving the understanding of their distribution?

It is important to work on these mosquito species to identify areas at risk of arbovirus transmission. Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus transmit dengue, chikungunya, and zika virus. The arboviruses have become growing public health threats across the world. Their outbreaks are now recognized just a few kilometers from your setting and cause major outbreaks in several parts of the world. We still remember the deadly zika outbreak approached anxiety at Brazil and Florida where availability of vector occurrence data are necessary to assist in identifying the major areas at risk, particularly if these deadly diseases spread rapidly to other continents. In late 2017, Egypt experienced a dengue outbreak that strikes the Red Sea Coast of Egypt where vector data were sparse. So, the availability of our updated maps should have public health implications to ongoing disease outbreaks and identify possible future shifts of these two competent vectors and diseases they transmit.

Your models are looking at scenarios up to 2070 - given this long-term view, how can your predictions help governments and local authorities improve their preparedness for potential disease outbreaks?

Our models identified possible shifts in the distributions of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus across many parts of the world. Governments and local authorities should identify their priorities for surveillance and control programs to improve the preparedness for possible disease outbreaks possibly occur by further expansions of both vector species anticipated by our study. The spread of both vectors will remain a major health problem that leads to rapid spread of major arboviral outbreaks (e.g. dengue, zika, and chikungunya). It possibly drives the emergence of more threats including other arbovirus outbreaks like Mayaro that may raise another case for WHO emergency. Finally, vector control programs should be implemented regularly to protect the possible invasions of these vectors to new habitats and prevent their spread across several parts of the world. These programs may include coordination between countries for better preparedness, for example, the successful mission implemented by the Medilabsecure that include surveillance, monitoring, and control of disease vectors in 19 countries across the Balkan and Middle East countries. These regional efforts should track the spread of these vectors considering the nature of their response to climatic changes that we introduced.

Do you have any specific advice for the global improvement of advocacy, control, treatment and management of arboviral diseases? Are there technologies, partnerships or vector control solutions which you feel urgently need to be improved or developed?

Yes, the major advice is to improve surveillance and monitoring systems, insecticide resistance monitoring and management, vector control capacity and capability, community participation, and cross-sectoral coordination as per WHO guidelines, particularly via integrated vector management on regional levels for optimal use of available resources for vector and disease control programs. We can see that enhancing these activities may be achieved via collaboration between different sectors in the region (e.g. Medilabsecure project).

Are you specifically looking for certain partnerships and collaboration, whether they be in research, funding or mapping?

Yes, further collaborations and funding will contribute directly to develop further detailed analyses that cover different aspects of mappin