Bloodsuckers, inside and out: weeklong introduction to basics of vector biology and surveillance

May 7, 2018 - May 7, 2018

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Please direct any questions to MCE-VBD: Phone: 608-265-4741 E-mail:

***NOTE: this workshop was offered for the first time in 2017.  The 2018 offering  -- tentatively May 7-11 -- is still a work in progress.  A draft syllabus is below.  Another weeklong workshop focused on diagnostic tools used in vectorborne disease surveillance is likely to be offered in August 2017.  

Please check this space for details and a registration form in approximately March 2018.

While trainees will be encouraged to complete the entire week if possible, the content in 2018 will be modular such that it should be possible to complete only certain portions of the week (e.g., mosquito identification only, or disease diagnostics only).  

Draft details of 2018 offering:

Brief description of the course:

Emerging and endemic vector-borne diseases are significant threats to public health.   Be a part of training opportunities with the newly formed Midwest Center of Excellence in Vector Borne Disease.   Work with a team of faculty to learn how to 1) build skills in surveillance methods to collect mosquito and tick species that are essential to transmission of pathogens like Zika virus and the causative agent of Lyme Disease, 2) learn to identify those arthropods, and 3) learn laboratory techniques for rearing arthropods and 4) learn basic vector biology, anatomy and physiology that are essential for pathogen transmission.  Students with an interest in public health and One Health will also benefit greatly from participation and building on expertise in infectious and zoonotic disease diagnostics.  The course will complement the selective “Vector-borne Disease Diagnostics” that will be offered in August.  A student is encouraged to take both selectives, but it is not required.

 Brief syllabus and learning objectives:

Learning objectives.   Students should come away from this course with measurable competence in the following broad topic areas:  1) describe surveillance methods to collect mosquito and tick species, 2) list and describe key features used to identify mosquitoes and ticks, and 3) describe vector biology, anatomy and physiology in the context of pathogen transmission, and compare that to what you know to pathogen infection dynamics in a vertebrate host.  For each day, unit-specific objectives will be outlined.

 Daily Activities.

Day 1.  Surveillance. 

a.m.  Lecture:  Overview of vector-borne diseases.  Emphasis on concepts of vector competence, vector incrimination.

p.m.  Field experience in trapping mosquitoes and dragging for ticks in the UW Arboretum. 

Day 2. 

a.m.  Return to arboretum to collect mosquito traps set on Day 1.

p.m.  Tick identification workshop.

Day 3: 

a.m.  Mosquito identification workshop – Larvae

p.m.  Tour of Bartholomay lab

p.m.  Larval nutrition laboratory.

Day 4.

a.m.  Mosquito identification workshop – adults 

p.m.  Adult mosquito nutrition laboaratory.

Day 5.

a.m.  Continued mosquito identification.  Larvae and adults – unknowns.

p.m.  Table top exercise – invasive tick species/tick-borne disease scenario


Assessment Plan.  In order to actualize this ambitious schedule, students will be asked to complete some training before class each day through the UW course management system.  Pre-class training will provide a primer to the content for that particular day, with a built-in assessment tool (quiz) to assess their mastery of the material.  With each module (lecture/lab), students will complete a low-stakes competency assessment (e.g., a 2-5 question assessment wherein they might be asked to identify a specimen, or interpret a laboratory result).   For each discussion, students will be asked to turn in a written exercise (e.g., Think/Pair/Share or Main/Murkiest point assesments).