de Bellegarde de Saint Lary
Prof. Leo Visser
Dr. Patricia Bruijning
LUMC, UMC Utrecht
Travel and tourism have been recognized as main drivers of infectious diseases occurrence. For this reason, their monitoring through risk-based surveillance can, not only contribute to early detection of cases and improve response, but also reduce the risk of these events occurring and enhance preparedness activities . In Europe, several events of autochthonous transmission and local outbreaks following the introduction of arboviruses by viraemic travellers have been reported in the last years . The aim of this PhD project is therefore to detect arbovirus infections and to determine prevalence of seropositivity in returning travellers in order to assess the risk of importation and exposure to vector-borne diseases during their trips. Considering the reduction in the number of travels overseas due to COVID-19, the PhD will mainly target travellers visiting areas in Europe which are considered hotspots for arbovirus circulation. Travellers will be involved in data collection using a newly developed mobile-health application which will allow us to gather travel and health related information. In particular, the participants to this research will be asked to keep a digital symptom diary during their journey and to provide self-collected finger prick blood samples upon their return. Moreover, the possibility to collect data on the mosquito population will be explored. The participants may be asked to report and take pictures of mosquitoes detected during their journey providing additional information on traveller exposure to mosquito bites and risk of vector dispersal. Finally, a preparedness protocol will be developed in collaboration with the other PhDs in order to allow early warning and targeted human and animal surveillance in the event of suspected arbovirus circulation in The Netherlands.
 Semenza J., Rocklöv J., Penttinen P., Lindgren, Elisabet. Observed and projected drivers of emerging infectious diseases in Europe. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1382 (2016) 73–83. https://doi: 10.1111/nyas.13132
 Gossner Céline M, Ducheyne Els, Schaffner Francis. Increased risk for autochthonous vector-borne infections transmitted by Aedes albopictus in continental Europe. Euro Surveill. 2018;23(24):pii=1800268. https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2018.23.24.1800268
Research questions / objectives
This project 'Preparing for vector-borne virus outbreaks in a changing world: a One Health Approach' (NWA. 1160.1S.210) is (partly) financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO).