Ticks and Mosquitoes and the Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease

For January 10, 2018

Hi WN@TL Fans,

An aria is often the high point of an opera, but malaria is often associated with low-lying land.  It’s not just the air that’s bad, it’s the mosquitoes buzzing through it, which like to breed in the still waters of the low land.

Mosquitoes don’t bark but their bite can be worse than the prick of their proboscis.  The insects aren’t venomous but they carry or “vector” stuff far worse:  disease-causing viruses, bacteria, protists and helminth worms more formidable than a poison because the pathogens multiply in the body, while a venom is merely diluted by injection.

The vector-borne diseases spread by ticks and insects have re-written more human history than Herodotus ever could. They include malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, typhus, and plague, for starters.

Others include exotic sicknesses like Rift Valley fever, elephantiasis, and chikungunya; home-grown diseases like La Crosse encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis; and imports like Zika virus and West Nile virus.

Some of the diseases attack us; others attack our pets or our livestock.  There’s a whole calvary of vector-borne diseases of crops, but that’s a story for another knight.

Tonight (January 10) Susan Paskewitz of Entomology will speak on “Ticks and Mosquitoes and the Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease.”

Here’s how she describes her talk:

“Paskewitz’s talk will focus on the activities of the newly created Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease. The center was established in 2017 as a response to the increasing rate of human illness caused by tick- and mosquito-transmitted diseases in the region, including Lyme disease and West Nile encephalitis. In addition to these familiar problems, new ticks, mosquitoes, and pathogens have been discovered. Solving these issues will require a new generation of trained vector biologists, cooperation and collaboration among public-health professionals and scientists, and creative and innovative research to reduce human and insect contact.”

About the Speaker

Paskewitz is the director of the Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease and the chair of the Department of Entomology at UW–Madison. Her research focuses on the ecology, epidemiology, and management of ticks and mosquitoes. She teaches classes in global health, medical and veterinary entomology, and the One Health concept, during which she enjoys working with undergraduate and graduate students who seek to gain experience in public health, infectious disease, and vector-biology research. Paskewitz earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Southern Illinois University–Carbondale and her doctorate at the University of Georgia–Athens.


Next week:  A century ago, how did the the University of Wisconsin share its sagas of research with the broader public across the state?  The College of Agriculture had its Cooperative Extension arm and its Ag Bulletin publications. But the College of Letters & Science had a journalism professor who also pioneered the telling of research stories and the training of new journalists in that vein.  Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen recounts the interplay of journalism, science, and the Wisconsin Idea on January 17.

Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!

Thanks again,

Tom Zinnen
UW-Madison and UW-Extension