Fighting vector-borne diseases with data

Scientists have shared more than 500,000 new records of organisms that carry and transmit infectious diseases to humans through a series of data papers published by GigaByte with support from TDR

Aedes albopictus
Aedes albopictus (Skuse, 1894) observed by anonymous Mosquito Alert user in Sant Celoni, Catalonia, Spain (CC BY 4.0)

The journal GigaByte has published a special series of 11 "Data Release" papers that describe biodiversity datasets shared through GBIF relating to vectors of human diseases.

The special issue presents a wide variety of data—more than 500,000 new occurrence records for vector species worldwide—relating to the presence, spread and diversity of organisms that transmit viruses, bacteria and parasites to humans. Representing the work of authors in 31 countries and territories, the publication is the product of a partnership between GigaScience Press and the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), hosted at the World Health Organization (WHO).

Free and open access to the biodiversity data described in the articles enables research and analysis needed to confront the threats and growing burden that vector-borne diseases place on ecosystem and human health. The authors' work also incentivizes the sharing of data through GBIF to track and assess particular species, especially where it closes geographic gaps where the presence of these organisms have not yet been well docummented.

“This is an important effort for sharing data on vectors which are essential in the fight against vector-borne diseases," Florence Fouque, scientist and focal point for vectors at TDR. "We do hope that it will encourage wider sharing of such data.”

The difficulty of carrying out a global call for novel data of this type is reduced by creating mechanisms to incentive data collection, sharing, and discovery. Currently, one of the best ways to overcome these difficulties is through the publication of data papers, which provide scholarly credit for the researchers whose vital work in this area often fails to receive appropriate recognition. Such papers also serve to drive readers directly to the data available through GBIF.

“The response to this data paper series shows the enormous potential for improving availability of data on species connected with human diseases," said Tim Hirsch, deputy director of GBIF. "Such data often already exists but is disconnected and unavailable for reuse, but by opening it up to researchers and policymakers and alerting them to it via peer-reviewed descriptions, we can support greater understanding and better policies that reflect the inextricable connections between biodiversity and human health.”

Scott Edmunds, editor in chief of GigaScience and chief editor of GigaByte, has provided helpful overview of each of the papers in the series in this blog post.

Summary of papers and datasets in the series

authors title Dataset(s)
Andrade-Filho JD et al. Online catalogue of the Coleção de Flebotomíneos (FIOCRUZ/COLFLEB), a biological collection of American sand flies (Diptera: Psychodidae, Phlebotominae) held at Fiocruz Minas, Brazil 10.46471/gigabyte.52 10.15468/sxcpfp
Marceló-Díaz C et al. Arbovirus vectors in municipalities with a high risk of dengue in Cauca, Southwestern Colombia 10.46471/gigabyte.53 10.15472/dxbowv
Južnič-Zonta Ž et al. Mosquito alert: leveraging citizen science to create a GBIF mosquito occurrence dataset 10.46471/gigabyte.54 10.15470/t5a1os
dos Santos Conceição M et al. Culicidae (Diptera: Culicomorpha) in the southern Brazilian ‘Ana Leuch Lozovei’ collection, with notes on distribution and diversity 10.46471/gigabyte.55 10.15468/g7628g
Paull SH, Thibault KM & Benson AL Tick abundance, diversity and pathogen data collected by the National Ecological Observatory Network 10.46471/gigabyte.56 10.15468/b52b9z
Miranda M el al. AIMSurv: First pan-European harmonized surveillance of Aedes invasive mosquito species of relevance for human vector-borne diseases 10.46471/gigabyte.57 10.15470/vs3677
Van Bortel W et al. MODIRISK: Mosquito vectors of disease, collection, monitoring and longitudinal data from Belgium 10.46471/gigabyte.58 10.15468/3in3fb 10.15468/4fidg2 10.15468/rwsozv
Deblauwe I et al. MEMO: Monitoring of exotic mosquitoes in Belgium 10.46471/gigabyte.59 10.15468/4u5aub 10.15468/r42fr7
Godoy RE et al. Sand fly (Diptera: Psychodidae: Phlebotominae) records in Acre, Brazil: a dataset 10.46471/gigabyte.60 10.15468/c9arun
Shimabukuro PHF et al. Occurrence records and metadata for sand flies (Diptera, Psychodidae, Phlebotominae) collected in the lands of indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon 10.46471/gigabyte.61 10.15468/28xvr7 10.15468/gt29ub
Ceccarelli S et al. American triatomine species occurrences: updates and novelties in the DataTri database 10.46471/gigabyte.62 10.15468/fbywtn

About GigaByte Journal

GigaByte is an open access and open science journal published by GigaScience Press, the Open Access and Open Data Publishing division of BGI. As with its sister-journal, GigaScience, GigaByte publishes ALL reusable and shareable research objects, such as data, software tools and workflows, from data-driven research, with the principal goal of matching the speed of publishing to the speed of research. Learn more.

About TDR

TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, is a global programme of scientific collaboration that helps facilitate, support and influence efforts to combat diseases of poverty. It is co-sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO).