International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) Nairobi 30772-00100, Kenya
Vector-borne transmission of viruses and other pathogens to humans and animals occur when vectors bite them for a blood meal. Studies on vector-host interaction, therefore, provide insights into vector-disease epidemiology and avenues for disease surveillance and control. Arboviral diseases are notorious for unpredictable outbreaks usually coinciding with periods of high vector density. The inter-epidemic period is usually characterized by low virus transmission rates and low vector density. Surveillance as a critical component of risk assessment during this period thus, requires sensitive sampling methods and selective for target vectors to maximise the detection probability of viruses in the vectors. This can be achieved by exploring the communicative functions of volatile organic compounds that largely mediate vector host-seeking process, to develop potent chemical lures that mimic the signature profiles of the scent of hosts. This talk will highlight progress in our work on volatile signaling in the host-seeking process in two arbovirus disease systems: Rift Valley fever and dengue/Yellow fever, with the objective to develop highly attractive lures targeting the mosquito vectors of these diseases, with profound implications for surveillance to combat the threats they pose.