Spain’s Ministry of Health Revolutionizes Mosquito Control and Surveillance with Mosquito Alert App
The Ministry of Health is leading the charge in enhancing mosquito control and disease surveillance through its groundbreaking project, Mosquito Alert. As part of the National Plan for Prevention, Surveillance, and Control of vector-borne diseases, this initiative leverages citizen science for the first time as a powerful tool. By utilizing a user-friendly app, individuals can actively contribute vital information on mosquito presence and activity.
Coordinated by esteemed institutions such as the Blanes Centre for Advanced Studies of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), Pompeu Fabra University, the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications, and the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies, Mosquito Alert has demonstrated the significant impact of citizen participation in the past decade. Through collective efforts, the project has greatly improved surveillance capabilities and early detection of invasive mosquito species like the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and the Japanese mosquito (Aedes japonicus).
Fernando Simón, director of the Health Alerts and Emergencies Coordination Centre, emphasized the importance of adapting to a rapidly changing world. “Efficient surveillance systems require innovation,” he stated. Simón recognized citizen science as an indispensable component of their responsibilities, citing the wealth of information constantly generated through mobile phones that can contribute to vector control and other public health endeavours.
‘If it stings, report it!’
In collaboration with the Centre for the Coordination of Alerts and Sanitary Emergencies, Mosquito Alert has launched an extensive awareness campaign under the slogan ‘If it bites you, notify!’. The campaign aims to investigate the expansion of tiger mosquitoes beyond their known distribution limits in Spain, create the country’s first map of mosquito bites to identify high interaction zones between humans and mosquitoes, enhance understanding of Japanese mosquito distribution along the Cantabrian coast, and detect the potential arrival of yellow fever mosquitoes.
To foster participation across various institutions, the Mosquito Alert website offers comprehensive outreach materials, inviting interested parties from administrations, provinces, and municipalities to join the communication and information initiatives tailored to their territories.
Frederic Bartumeus, co-director of Mosquito Alert and researcher at CEAB-CSIC, hailed the recognition of citizen science as a significant stride in combating mosquito-borne diseases. Highlighting the pioneering nature of integrating citizen science into a national plan at the European level, Bartumeus emphasized the value of collaboration between the scientific community, citizens, and administrations in achieving common goals. He underscored the pivotal role of citizen participation in acquiring extensive data, promoting continuous dialogue, reducing costs, expanding surveillance areas, and enabling early detection.
A paramount public health tool
All information contributed by the public within the project framework plays a crucial role in scientific research and management of invasive mosquito species. Validated and classified by experts from the National Digital Entomology Network, the data can be accessed and downloaded from the Mosquito Alert map. Roger Eritja, the project’s head of entomology, emphasized the precision, consistency, and speed provided by expert validation in combination with artificial intelligence techniques, resulting in a real-time surveillance platform. This wealth of information enables the preparation of dynamic risk maps, facilitating faster and more efficient responses to public health issues related to mosquitoes.
The CEAB-CSIC receives European funding through the Recovery, Transformation, and Resilience Plan of the Government of Spain, supported by Next Generation EU funds. This economic support will sustain the platform’s infrastructure and contribute to the development of an automated alert system equipped with artificial intelligence and near real-time visualization tools. These advancements will significantly enhance decision-making by public health managers across various administrations.
The MOSQUITO ALERT app and website (http://www.mosquitoalert.com/) are available in English, empowering individuals to join the fight against