An Edge Hill University academic is travelling to Colombia this month to work on the front line against mosquito-borne diseases.
Dr Clare Strode is leading, alongside Professor Omar Triana-Chavez of Universidad de Antioquia, on a British Council-funded project which will collect Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in seven cities across Colombia which are hotspots for the Zika and dengue viruses.
Dr Strode said: “The Zika pandemic is an ongoing global emergency, and the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which spread the virus are becoming increasingly resistant to insecticides, which is of course a major public health concern.”
The collections will include mosquito larvae from standing water and fully grown mosquitoes from people’s homes.
As well as giving a talk at Universidad de Antioquia, Clare will be collecting mosquitoes in Cúcuta City, close to the Venezuelan border.
Back in the UK, she will run genetic testing on the mosquito samples to check for mutations that may be causing the resistance.
Clare said: “By tracking resistance and reporting the genetic mutations that are causing it, we can gain more understanding of resistance and ultimately inform new disease control methods.”
Dr Clare Strode is a Senior Lecturer in Biology at Edge Hill University. She gained her PhD at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and subsequently spent 10 years there as a post-doctoral researcher. During this time she developed bespoke microarrays or ‘detox chips’ to dissect the genetic mechanisms involved in conferring insecticide resistance in the major African malaria mosquito vector Anopheles gambiae and the dengue vector Aedes aegypti. The detox chips proved to be highly instrumental in evolving the understanding of resistance.
She has been involved in numerous international collaborations monitoring insecticide resistance in mosquito populations worldwide and determining the factors underpinning this increasing global problem. Clare has also been involved in assessing whether vector control measures, such as insecticide treated bed nets, remain effective against insecticide resistant mosquitoes.