2011 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of the cooperative effort between Brandeis University and the ARS Mosquito and Fly Research Unit (MFRU) is to demonstrate the public health importance and socio-economic benefits of the area-wide control of the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Economists from Brandeis University in Massachusetts will guide and direct the studies of the benefits of the area-wide program and have primary responsibility for the economic analyses. Together, these two institutions will utilize their expertise and human resources to collaborate and focus on a mosquito species that causes severe problems for residents of many areas of the U.S.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Brandeis researchers will collect and analyze data related to costs and economic outcomes over the course of the project. They will collect data directly about the publicly financed cost of vector control by interviewing government and project officials and reviewing budgets and other documents. They will manage collection of data from households through community surveys. Finally, they will analyze all data needed for performing economic analyses. Brandeis will implement two rounds of a household (community) telephone survey using random digit dialing about household expenditures related to mosquito control and outdoor activities that may be impacted by the Asian Tiger mosquito.
This project is related to Objective 5 of the in-house project - Determine chemical and other cues associated with regulation and orientation of specific behaviors by Aedes albopictus, Culex pipiens group species/hybrids, and other biting arthropods that can be applied to the solution of operational surveillance and control problems.
A summary of project progress in calendar year 2010 and planned activities for calendar year 2011 were presented by Rutgers and Brandeis team members to ARS personnel and the Project Evaluation Team at an annual program review held in January 2011 at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. A second round of interviews for 221 households in Monmouth and Mercer Counties was conducted in late 2010 by Brandeis University researchers. This survey refined approaches for assessing “willingness-to-pay” (WTP) and quality of life. The survey asked how mosquitoes affected household members’ mosquito-related experience and quality of life and the time they spent or would have spent in outdoor activities. A “difference-in-difference” analysis suggests that these two interventions were effective in mitigating the mosquito burden. The unique WTP research technique is used in the economic analysis of mosquito control programs where the benefits are collective, as is the case with the ATM Project. Such programs are difficult or almost impossible to provide through private sector funds alone and are widely funded collectively in the U.S. through taxes or charitable donations. Most respondents to the survey were willing to pay immediately through taxes (35%) or charitable donations (6%) or through one of these means in the future (43%); while 16% were unwilling to pay for additional abatement services. The study projected that the counties’ 1.01 million residents of the area surveyed would be willing to pay $9.61 million annually for an enhanced mosquito control program. Collectively, residents would be willing to provide new funds, equivalent to 3.67 times the combined 2008 annual operating costs ($2.61 million) of the counties’ existing mosquito control programs. These results reflect a positive attitude of residents toward mosquito control and their enjoyment of more outdoor activities while recognizing its role in the elimination of mosquitoes and prevention of the diseases that they transmit to humans and livestock. Various aspects of these results were presented and discussed at the annual meetings of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta, GA (November 2010) and the American Mosquito Control Association in Anaheim, CA (March, 2011).
Progress was monitored during the period of Asian tiger mosquito activity. Project activities were monitored via weekly e-mail updates of field activities and results, and periodic conference calls between team members and ARS staff.