Research funded by the U.S. Department of Defense will offer preventive approach to disease outbreak
Friday, Oct. 18, 2019
MANHATTAN — A common approach to disease outbreak has been one that is reactionary in nature — take action after the person is infected and after there is evidence of an outbreak. However, a new tool being developed at Kansas State University will instead provide a risk assessment of individuals becoming infected before it happens and will guide implementing preventive measures.
Funded by a U.S. Department of Defense, three-year, $868,000 grant, Caterina Scoglio, the LeRoy and Aileen Paslay professor in the Mike Wiegers Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering, is leading the team effort, PICTUREE: Predicting Insect Contact and Transmission Using histoRical Entomological and Environmental Data.
Co-principal investigator for the project is Lee Cohnstaedt, research entomologist with the USDA-Arthropod-borne Animal Diseases Research Unit in Manhattan. Three Kansas State University doctoral students, Aram Vajdi, Tanvir Ferdousi, and Chunlin Yi, and one software developer, Josh Manning, all in the electrical and computer engineering department, are also a part of the team.
With partners from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Mosquito and Fly Research Unit, Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit and the Army Public Health Center, project participants will develop a computer program to help planners optimize use of provisions and alignment of resources based on estimated risk for arthropod-transmitted pathogens such as the Zika virus and dengue fever.
Current practices for these vector-borne diseases are reactionary and retroactive for human health protection, but the PICTUREE project will provide a proactive and adaptive approach to preventing pathogens from becoming a health threat.
"Using big data, we will develop a decision support platform to assess three risk levels — high, medium and low — of these mosquito-transmitted pathogens, and their current and future outbreak risk at different places around the globe," Scoglio said.
The project is in line with other research on infectious diseases being conducted at Kansas State University and its Biosecurity Research Institute, and what will be conducted at the National Bio-Agro Facility, the nation's foremost animal disease research facility under construction adjacent to the university campus.