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What role do insects play in Ebola virus transmission?

November 05, 2014

Research on arthropod involvement in Ebola virus transmission has been quite limited, so many questions remain about whether flies and other insects play any role in the transmission of Ebola virus. If they do, how significant is this role, and what efforts need to be undertaken to reduce health risks?

These questions and others will be discussed during a special session at Entomology 2014, the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), in Portland, Oregon. The session will be begin at 5:30 PM on Monday, November 17, 2014 in Portland Ballroom 256 at the Oregon Convention Center.

"I'll be really glad if it turns out that insects have nothing to do with Ebola, and we entomologists can stay out of the problem," said Dr. Nancy Hinkle, a veterinary entomologist at the University of Georgia and a co-organizer of the session. "But if there is any chance that having insects around increases risk of Ebola transmission, we have an obligation to investigate why, and to find ways to reduce that hazard. This is a nasty disease, and it's killing people."

"What is the Potential Role of Insects in Ebola Virus Transmission?" is the title of the session, which will be held by members of ESA's MUVE Section, who specialize in medical, urban, and veterinary entomology.

To initiate discussion, the following presentations will summarize current knowledge and thoughts on this topic:
  • "Why Haematophagous Arthropods Likely Play no Role in Ebola Virus Transmission" by Laura C. Harrington, Department of Entomology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

  • "Weighing the Possibility of Insects Mechanically Transmitting Ebola Virus" by Rebecca Trout Fryxell, Entomology and Plant Pathology Department, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.

  • "House Flies as Suitable Mechanical Vectors for Viruses" by Alec Gerry, Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA.

-end-
All interested attendees of Entomology 2014 are invited to attend.

Members of the media can request press passes for Entomology 2014 by contacting Richard Levine at rlevine@entsoc.org or at 301-731-4535, ext 3009.

More than 3,200 entomologists are expected to attend Entomology 2014, which will be held November 16-19, 2014 in Portland. More information about the meeting is available at http://entsoc.org/entomology2014.

The Entomological Society of America is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has nearly 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Members are researchers, teachers, extension service personnel, administrators, marketing representatives, research technicians, consultants, students, and hobbyists. For more information, visit http://www.entsoc.org.

Entomological Society of America

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Inferno: A Doctor's Ebola Story
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Ebola: Behind the Mask
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Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond
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Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC - Tracking Ebola and the World's Deadliest Viruses
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