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Health concerns: Mosquito mapping may help

COLLEGE STATION Got mosquitoes? Thanks to a new Web-based mapping system, you soon will be able to see if West Nile encephalitis or some other mosquito-borne disease is in your neighborhood.

The Knowledge Engineering Lab in the department of entomology at Texas A&M University is heading up the project to develop the statewide Mosquito Spatial Information Management System. The real-time system -- that will be available through the Internet -- will map disease occurrence, epidemiology and control procedures, said Dr. Robert Coulson, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station professor.

Based on similar maps developed last year for Brazos County by Catherine Zindler, a Texas A&M entomology graduate student, the system will allow health officials to target disease hot spots and determine whether insecticides used for control are working (http://agnews.tamu.edu/dailynews/stories/ENTO/May2804a.htm).

Information will be contributed and made available to governmental officials, state health officials and universities.

Coulson also expects the public to use the system as well.

"The idea behind that system is that it would facilitate planning, problem solving and decision support in regard to mosquito-borne diseases," Coulson said.

With insect-vectored diseases, "having reliable information that can be addressed immediately in real time actually has a lot to do with response time," he said.

For example, if health officials need to know how well a control procedure works, the mapping system will allow quick access to that information, he said.

The Web site will be easy to use. "If it is not user-friendly, people will not use it," Coulson said. "The maps have to be presented where they are useable and understandable by people."

This information is not available now, said Dr. Jim Olson, Experime
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Contact: Edith Chenault
e-chenault1@tamu.edu
979-845-2886
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
10-Nov-2004


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