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Uganda Virus Research Institute

REPUBLIC OF UGANDA

Entomology

Division of Entomology

Objective

  • To study Arthropods involved in the transmission of arbo-viral and parasitic infections, for disease burden reduction through basic & applied research.

 

  • Several insect species transmit a variety of pathogens to humans. In Uganda mosquitoes are the greatest menance of them all, spreading parasites and pathogens causing diseases such as malaria, and a host of other arboviral infections- together responsible for millions of cases and thousands of deaths annually. The Division of Entomology is a center for vector biology research conducting scientific investigations aimed at contributing to knowledge, policy and practice to inform and improve disease prevention and control efforts while also building institutional and national capacity for future sustainability.

Primary Research/ Activities areas:

  • Distribution, species composition, abundance, diversity, biosystematics, behavior and population structure within Key mosquito disease vectors; Uganda lies in the tropics with nearly the entire population living in areas at risk for one or more mosquito vector borne diseases. Malaria and yellow fever, among others, are great public health concerns. However, the geographical distribution; species composition; taxonomy, abundance; mating, feeding and resting behavior; genetic evolution and population structure of major disease mosquito vectors across the country still remains ill -defined.  We are studying and mapping these aspects for key malaria and arboviral vectors at select disease hot-spots in Uganda. This will go along way in supporting design and deployment of appropriate control interventions.
  • Technical support for surveillance, and outbreak investigations;

The division is well equipped and in position to provide technical support on referrals or training for morphological and molecular species identifications, and insecticide resistance profiling (see below) for a number of Anopheles and Aedes disease vectors.

  • Insecticide resistance;

Insecticides play a pivotal role in vector-targeted disease control strategies. However, insecticides are confounded by the emergence of resistance necessitating design of comprehensive insecticide management strategies including routine resistance testing and profiling. Part of our work involves characterization of insecticide resistance profiles among select malaria vector populations across the country.

  • Mosquito ecology;

Mosquitoes can impact the ecosystem in various ways and their abundance is under the influence of both abiotic (rainfall, temperature, etc.) and biotic (competition, parasitism, predation, food etc.) ecological factors. However, these relationships and interactions are still poorly understood among key disease vectors in Uganda.  We are investigating these ecological factors and interactions within select mosquito vector populations. Effective vector control harnessing improved methods, will require a good understanding of the ecology and role of mosquitoes in the ecosystem.

  • Novel vector-targeted mosquito control tools

Vector control has helped with substantial reductions of morbidity and mortalities from vector-borne diseases over the years, but insecticides, the main-stay control method, are faced with mounting challenges in terms of emergence of insecticide resistance, environmental degradation from toxicity, and high operational costs among others. New tools are urgently needed.  We are involved in research into various approaches for alternative tools, among these vector population reductions through use of:

  • Entomo-pathogens (microbes with larvicidal properties)
  • Genetic modification to disrupt reproductive capacity.

 

  • Capacity Building

We are strengthening human and physical infrastructural capacity through staff training  (M.Sc. & Ph.D.s) for higher academic qualifications and further skills acquisition in strategic research areas, installation of state of the art equipment and facilities for specialized vector biology studies, and maintaining broad research collaborations and networks.

Key Resources/ Infrastructure

  • Zika forest study station and other field sites
  • Arthropod containment level 2 Insectary
  • Well equipped morphology and molecular laboratories

List of Funders

  • Government of Uganda/MoH
  • Uganda National Council For Science and Technology (UNCST)
  • International Association of National Public Health Institutions (IANPHI)
  • Open Philanthropy (OP)
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)
  • Welcome Trust (THRiVE Network)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)