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Complex Systems Seminar: Jesús Gómez-Gardeñes: Hunting mosquitoes with networks

When: Thursday, June 23, 2022
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM Central

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Samantha Westlake  

Group: Physics and Astronomy Complex Systems Seminars

Category: Academic


Abstract: In 2009, it was discovered that when Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are infected with a bacterium called Wolbachia, transmission of the dengue virus from mosquitoes to humans is drastically reduced. Unfortunately, Aedes mosquitoes do not acquire Wolbachia in their natural environment, this bacterium has to be introduced in a laboratory and, then, the mosquitoes are released in areas affected by dengue transmission. Mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia naturally take over the local mosquito population, as the bacterium is passed on from one generation to the next.  A difficult question to answer is how to make the best use of these valuable and limited resources to stop dengue transmission as much as possible. In this presentation we address this question by focusing on how to spatially distribute Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes so that their immunizing effect reaches and protects as many people as possible. To do this, we begin by developing a data-driven metapopulation model that can be analysed through the lens of network science and non-linear dynamics. This model incorporates those aspects that drive the spatial spread of dengue, such as human mobility and the spatial distribution of humans and vectors. We will show how this model recreates and predicts the spatial spread of dengue in a given region. Once the basic ingredients of the spread of dengue disease are understood, the most important geographical areas for the emergence of an epidemic are analysed, allowing the generation of a geographical immunisation ranking. From a theoretical point of view, the model presented in this talk has the advantage of taking advantage of real data on human and vector activity in a framework that, being realistic, can be analysed from a mathematical point of view. This allows us not only to recreate the epidemiological situation but, above all, to understand it. It is precisely this understanding that allows us to identify the geographical areas with the greatest vulnerability, thus creating a ranking of areas that prioritises those where Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes can have the strongest (and most beneficial) impact on suppressing the spread of dengue.

Speaker: Jesús Gómez-Gardeñes, Associate Professor, University of Zaragoza

Host: Professor Adilson Motter


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