We use a multidisciplinary, ecosystem approach, required to tackle these complex problems.
Project 1. Field work & Ecohealth Interventions
We work with rural communities to assess their risk of Chagas including entomologicial indices, housing condition, knowledge of the Chagas vector and prevention, presence and sleeping location of animals.
We help communities improve their lives by improving their houses with local materials - plastering the walls, cementing the floor, and moving the animals into outdoor pens. Access our Ecohealth instructional video.
We then assess the long term effects on transmission of the Ecohealth improvements. Results of our previous studies have shown that improving the houses reduces bug infestation and shifts blood sources from humans to other animals. These improvements reduce the risk of contracting Chagas, soil transmitted helminths, and improve the quality of people's lives.
Project 2. Researching the genomics of the parasite and vector
A genotyping-by-sequencing approach gives us tens of thousands of genetic markers of the insect vector and the parasite to understand vector movement and differentiation among vector populations and parasite strains.
Our metagenomics approach allows us also to uncover important animal reservoirs through blood sources found in the insects.
Project 3. Developing spatially explicit computational tools to understand transmission risk
We seek to use “Big Data” to improve our understanding of both the density dependent and density independent parameters that affect the population dynamics of the vector Triatoma dimidiata and how the population dynamics influence the risk of Chagas disease transmission. Our goal is to concurrently analyze multiple data types and identify the appropriate geographic scales at which to measure the risk of Chagas disease transmission at the village scale.