A new study has suggested that cutting surveillance for mosquito-borne diseases may lead to an increase in both the number of human cases and the health costs when a disease outbreak occurs.
"Our analysis shows that halting mosquito surveillance can increase the management costs of epidemics by more than 300 times, in comparison with sustained surveillance and early case detection," said Vazquez-Prokopec of the University of Emory.
The research was prompted by a US government proposal to slash funding for the vector-borne disease program of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
"This analysis provides scientific-based evidence of the need for more funding of mosquito surveillance, not less," said Uriel Kitron, a co-author of the study.
The study analysis used data from two outbreaks of dengue fever in Cairns, Australia, that occurred in 2003 and 2009.
A mathematical model was applied to the Cairns data to evaluate the economic impact of hypothetical epidemic curves, plotted against different response times.
A response within two weeks of the introduction of the pathogen was assumed to occur with active disease surveillance in place, and delays of six-to-eight weeks were assumed when active disease and vector surveillance were eliminated.
In Cairns, where mosquito surveillance is active, the reactions to the dengue fever outbreaks were rapid.
The costs of the epidemics - including vector control, case diagnosis; blood screening and workdays lost to disease - totalled U.S.150, 000 dollars for the 2003 outbreak and 1.1 million dollars for the 2009 outbreak.
The analysis showed that a delayed response of four-to-six weeks to both Cairns dengue outbreaks would have resulted in drastically escalated costs of up to 382 million dollars.
The Public Library of Science published the report.