One of five new Regional Training and Evaluation Centres for Vector-Borne Disease has been assigned to Penn State by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These facilities are intended to support national initiatives for the prevention and management of vector-borne illnesses.
For the first year of the centers, the CDC gave Penn State and four other organizations a total of more than $7.1 million. With a projected total of $6.25 million over five years, Penn State will earn $1.25 million in the first year.
Most prevalent vector-borne illness
Vectors like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas disseminate pathogens by their bites, which is how vector-borne diseases are propagated. The most prevalent vector-borne illness in the US is Lyme disease.
According to reports on this infection spread by ticks, Pennsylvania has the highest annual incidence of Lyme disease in the nation. By analyzing the needs of at-risk populations, focusing training for these groups, and assessing the impact of reducing disease burdens, the new Regional Training and Evaluation Centre seeks to minimize Lyme and other vector-borne diseases.
Arthropod vectors pose an increasing threat to global public health and agricultural systems, according to project director Erika Machtinger, associate professor of entomology in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and coordinator of Penn State Extension’s vector-borne illness team.
In the last 13 years, the prevalence of vector-borne diseases in the US has tripled, according to her. “There is a critical need for effective, targeted messaging on vector prevention and control strategies, as well as a need to evaluate current prevention and control methods.”
Addressing the escalating situation in Pennsylvania
Machtinger will oversee student and professional training and evaluation programs in her capacity as director. Machtinger has earned national attention for her teaching and achievements in extension education. She has eight years of experience evaluating tick-control methods in the northeastern United States. In order to address the escalating situation in Pennsylvania, she founded the Penn State Extension vector-borne disease team in 2019. This group has received national recognition as the pioneering one of its kind.
According to Machtinger, “Penn State Extension is a leader in transformative learning, a top extension system in the US, and well-positioned to support and enhance the output of the VectorED Network.” Using the Cooperative Extension System to reach audiences most impacted by vector-borne diseases across areas is the cornerstone of the VectorEd Network, she continued.
According to Machtinger, the project will concentrate on boosting the capacity of education programs for vector-borne diseases throughout a significant portion of the eastern United States. This will require utilizing and enhancing the current educational infrastructure to teach professionals in academics, government, health services, nongovernmental organizations, and the commercial sector.
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