Population Dynamic Models of Novel Strategies to Combat Mosquito-borne Viruses
The mosquito Aedes aegypti is the primary vector for dengue and zika viruses. Although a vaccine for dengue was recently developed, it is not yet globally available, and nearly 400 million people each year are estimated to be infected. Dengue typically causes mild flu-like symptoms, but in rare cases can lead to internal hemorrhaging and death. Zika causes similar symptoms, but a recent epidemic has caused global concern due to a link between microcephaly in newborns and mothers infected with zika while pregnant. There is no treatment for either disease, and so controlling them relies on controlling Ae. aegypti. In this talk, I will discuss novel control strategies that use either genetic engineering or biological control to suppress or replace the native mosquito population. I will describe a mathematical model for a specific population replacement strategy, the release of Ae. aegypti infected with Wolbachia bacteria, and discuss its results, which have important implications for optimizing global health efforts to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne disease.
Tim Antonelli received his Bachelors of Science in biomedical and electrical engineering from Duke University in 2008. After a brief stint as an automation engineer, he returned to school to pursue a Ph.D. in biomathematics at North Carolina State University. There he studied mathematical models of infectious diseases and wrote his dissertation on the dynamics of disease-carrying Aedes aegypti populations and public health strategies that aim to replace them. During this time, he took part in an interdisciplinary IGERT program to study genetic engineering in the context of society, working with Ph.D. students across various disciplines to examine the release of transgenic pests from ethical, social, and ecological perspectives. He is currently an assistant professor of statistics and probability at Worcester State University.