Vector Borne Disease Surveillance Workshop for State Based Health Officials

The Second Vector Borne Disease Surveillance Workshop


On June 18 & 19, 2019, eight state based health officials took the second Vector Borne Disease Surveillance workshop in Providence, Rhode Island. This was the second of two 2-day workshops aimed specifically at tackling the spread of diseases like Dengue fever, West Nile and Zika viruses. As with the first one, this was a Community Health Maps training specifically designed to demonstrate how to collect and work with geographic data related to vector borne diseases, i.e. those that are transmitted to humans via other animals such as mosquitoes. Attendees represented health departments in: Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Virginia and Guam.

Again this workshop was a team effort. The training was organized by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). Participants attendance was funded by CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. Travel for the trainers was funded by the National Library of Medicine, (funding for the workshop is provided under a sub-award from the National Library of Medicine to ICF International). This particular CHM workshop was taught in conjunction with ASTHO’s State Environmental Health Directors (SEHD) Peer Network Annual Meeting.

After an introduction to the Community Health Maps project – it’s origins, workflow and examples of past projects – participants learned to create a data collection form and use their smartphones to map features (trees, signs, benches etc…) around the conference site using Fulcrum.

For the remainder of the first day, the group took the data they collected earlier and imported into QGIS. In this section they became familiar with QGIS and how to symbolize layers and make a print map.


Attendees working through GIS vector surveillance exercise

In addition to the data collected on site, we worked with mosquito data acquired courtesy of Dr. Chris Barker  covering Madera County, CA. The data included mosquito trap results over five years, virus testing, mosquito biting complaints, storm drains, parcel boundaries, roads and a hypothetical case of Dengue fever.

The second day focused on generating vector borne disease surveillance products. The participants:

A) generated trend graphs of mosquito populations through time via the QGIS Data Plotly plugin,


B) generated heatmaps of mosquito populations,


C) calculated the minimum infection rate per year for West Nile and St. Louis Encephalitis viruses,


D) identified potential mosquito sources to be inspected (storm drains) using a combination of a buffer operation (done against mosquito complaints with the distance  the species is known to be able to travel) and select by location against storm drains,

stormdrainstobeinspected (1)

E) identified parcels at risk due to their proximity to a fictional outbreak of Dengue Fever,


and F) learned to animate temporal data using the QGIS Time Manager plugin. Here the mosquito population (heatmap) is being animated weekly for the year 2018 with mosquito management zones be displayed.


All participants received official QGIS certificates for their participation.

These workshop materials will part of the suite of available through the Community Health Maps program in the near future.

If you are interested in having this taught for you or your colleagues contact Kurt Menke (

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