Projects and Collaborators
Belize Vector and Ecology Center
Established in 1994, the Belize Vector & Ecology Center, or BVEC, is committed to providing an outstanding research platform for investigating a wide variety of ecological and public health concerns. Located in Orange Walk Town, Belize, Central America, BVEC is a field station managed by University of Notre Dame Eck Institute for Global Health and Department of Biological Sciences faculty, Dr. John P. Grieco and Dr. Nicole L. Achee. Through partnership with Belize Ministry of Health officials, domestic and international students, and researchers from around the world, BVEC ensures knowledge transfer and capacity building within local, regional and international public health arenas.
Spatial Repellents for the Control of Vector-borne Disease
Dr. Achee’s research program focuses on the prevention of human diseases caused by insects in resource-poor settings. She has over 15 years international field experience investigating various mosquito control strategies.
Currently, she is helping to lead a multinational team that will determine if a spatial repellent product will protect people from malaria and dengue – diseases caused by mosquitoes that are responsible for sickness and death throughout the world.
The research will be conducted in Peru and Indonesia. Project findings will be presented to the World Health Organization for consideration in recommending spatial repellents to be included in disease control programs. In this way, Dr. Achee hopes to attain the underlying goal of her research which is to improve the quality of life in at-risk populations at a global scale.
Worldwide Insecticide resistance Network
With arboviruses such as Dengue and Zika emerging as a greater threat to the world, the Worldwide Insecticide resistance Network (WIN) proposes to bring 15 international institutions recognized in vector research to inform the World Health Organization and other health authorities on the improvement of insecticide resistance surveillance as well as the use of alternative control tools. A multi-disciplinary approach is crucial in to protect public health worldwide from these emerging threats. Dr. Grieco and Dr. Achee lead the University of Notre Dame in the WIN initiative with their experience and active collaborations worldwide.
Aedes aegypti larval habitats in Orange Walk town, Belize
Field Assessment of Natural Yeast-Based Larvicides for Targeting Zika Vector Mosquitoes in Belize
A Response to Combating Zika and Future Threats: A Grand Challenge for Development
This two-year project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is a collaboration among the Indiana University School of Medicine, the University of Notre Dame Eck Institute for Global Health, the Belize Ministry of Health, Division of Vector Control, and the Belize Vector and Ecology Center. Together we will conduct both laboratory and field evaluations of a novel class of larvicides for the sustainable control of mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus.
Zika virus, a public health emergency of international concern, is spread primarily through the bite of infected daytime biting Aedes mosquitoes. Zika cases, which are linked to severe birth defects and neurological disorders, are currently occurring in many countries in the Americas, including Belize, which recently reported local transmission of Zika. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, the principle vectors of Zika virus, lay eggs in natural and artificial water-filled containers located within or close to human dwellings. Larviciding, the application of microbial or chemical agents to kill mosquito larvae in aquatic habitats, is therefore a key component of integrated Aedes control and disease prevention strategies.
Given the increase of reported insecticide resistance to existing larvicides and the rising concern for negative effects of pesticides on non-target organisms, the current larvicide repertoire is faced with great challenges to sustainability. New larvicidal agents are vitally needed to address emerging arthropod-borne infectious diseases such as Zika.