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Math and Mosquitoes
November 03, 2008
Katia Koelle, an assistant professor of biology at Duke, and Alun Lloyd, an associate professor of mathematics at North Carolina State University, teamed up on October 29 to present two different ways in which mathematics can inform how the biological sciences address dengue fever – a mosquito-borne disease.

Koelle’s presentation focused on her work using mathematical models to answer the puzzle of why efforts to control mosquitoes in Thailand have not resulted in decreases in Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, a life-threatening form of dengue. Because dengue fever has four serotypes in Thailand, the key to the puzzle was to create models that showed different levels of cross immunity—from no cross immunity between serotypes, to clinical cross-protection. By testing different models until the simulations reflected the actual data of spatial and temporal patterns of DHF, Koelle theorizes that patients do develop antibodies to additional strains of dengue during a short period after their first infection.

Lloyd’s presentation explored how mathematical models can be used to forecast the efficacy of efforts to eradicate or control mosquitoes by releasing less troublesome mosquitoes into an area at high enough levels to overwhelm the disease-bearing insects. He shared some of the challenges of creating accurate models, and how the models often raise otherwise undiscovered questions. Lloyd is currently involved in a large project funded by the Gates Foundation Grand Challenges in Global Health to investigate the possibility of using genetically modified mosquitoes to replace wild mosquitoes.

Video highlights and presentations fromf both presentations are below.

October 29, 2008 : Addressing Dengue
Katia Koelle, Assistant Professor of Biology, Duke University
Topic: Understanding the Ecological and Evolutionary Dynamics of Dengue
Powerpoint Presentation (PDF).

Alun Lloyd, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, North Carolina State University
Topic: Genetic Strategies for Controlling Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Powerpoint Presentation (PDF)

KATIE KOELLE, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY, DUKE UNIVERSITY
ALUN LLOYD, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF MATHEMATICS, NCSU

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