Citizen science is a way of involving citizens in research projects, allowing the public to work in collaboration with experts to solve relevant problems. It consists of a wide variety of activities such as making and recording observations, measuring local conditions or notifying sightings of, for instance, wild animal species. Within the One Health PACT project, citizens are involved through multiple programs: Muggenradar, Mosquito Alert, Viruskenner and even some yet to be developed applications within this project! These programs aim to collect data on both mosquito and ecological factors, as well as on human health. By including citizens in the One Health PACT, we can expand the data collection efforts necessary to monitor, prevent and control arboviral spread, while highlighting the relevance of our project and educating the public on impactful issues. This way, we hope to create a great impact with our research project on prevention of arboviral spread with the help of the public.
On the rest of this page you will find information about the tools used in our citizen science projects, the importance of the data we will collect with these tools and how you can get involved. Will you be our next citizen scientist?
Muggenradar is a citizen science tool which can be used by the general public to submit their perceived mosquito nuisance. Muggenradar is implemented in Nature Today, which is a Dutch platform which publishes news articles and hosts various citizen science platforms. Via Muggenradar, mosquito nuisance can be submitted throughout the entire year, although sometimes the general public is actively encouraged to submit their mosquito nuisance. People can choose between ‘no nuisance’, ‘some nuisance’, ‘much nuisance’ and ‘very much nuisance’. In addition, people are asked to report the precautionary measures they take against mosquitoes, such as whether they use window screens and remove mosquito breeding sites in-and near the house.
In 2020, Muggenradar was implemented in OHPACT research for the first time. During the summer of 2020, Nature Today newsletter subscribers (32000 subscribers) were asked every Monday to report the nuisance they had experienced over the weekend. This data will be collected in order to gain insights in spatiotemporal patterns of mosquito nuisance. Over 1700 mosquito nuisance reports were made between the 20th of July and the 25th of August (figure 1.). The first results were published on the Nature Today website at the end of August.
Additionally, within the OHPACT a joint effort by Wageningen University and Research, Leiden University and Vogeltrekstation (NIOO and Ringersvereniging) on nation-wide mosquito trapping was launched, which took place in parallel with the Muggenradar call. On various locations throughout the Netherlands mosquitoes are trapped weekly. Mosquito numbers in the field will be compared to mosquito nuisance reports and by doing this, data can be cross-validated and patterns can be identified. Currently, efforts are being made to allow the general public to submit mosquito specimens caught indoors via the Muggenradar, which has been done successfully in the past. These mosquito specimens can be used to study species-specific distribution patterns, activity patterns and host preferences, for instance.
One of the main objectives of this project is to detect arbovirus infections in returning travellers. For this reason, travellers visiting specific areas in Europe will be invited to participate in this study and involved in data collection using a new mobile-health application. This app will be developed in the coming months and will be available for travellers starting from summer 2021.
Participants to this research will be asked to provide travel and health related information and eventually, finger prick blood samples which will be tested for the presence of arboviruses upon their return to The Netherlands. The information collected via app will include data such as the type and purpose of the travel and possible symptoms experienced during their trip. In addition, this app will be used not only to collect data but also to inform and release messages to the travellers. Through this tool, therefore, participants will be able to access health-related information regarding their travel destinations and to stay informed regarding related events during their journey. Finally, the participants might be also able to support data collection on the mosquito population, taking pictures of and reporting on mosquitoes and mosquito bite exposure during their travel. The collected data will be used to measure arbovirus infections in travellers and will contribute to determine the risk of arbovirus infections in The Netherlands.
Mosquito Alert aims to fight and prevent the spread of mosquito-borne viruses with the help of the public. Using a mobile application, anyone can send a report or pictures of mosquito breeding sites, sightings of adult mosquitoes and biting rates. Citizens have their reports validated by experts in the field, receive feedback regarding their submissions and can even access the data themselves using the online map. Through citizen participation, Mosquito Alert involves, educates and raises awareness among citizens to solve this global public health problem.
Within the One Health PACT, Mosquito Alert has partnered with Technasium schools all across the Netherlands and schools all around Spain. Students will be taught the importance and impact of mosquitoes and mosquito-borne viruses and how to use the application to provide more data through masterclasses and workshops. The data collected by students will validated and used to create various predictive models of mosquito spread across the two countries. The aim is not only to produce large amounts of data but to also to inspire students to become the next generation of scientists.