The discipline of medical entomology, or public health entomology, and also veterinary entomology is focused upon insects and arthropods that impact human health. Veterinary entomology is included in this category, because many animal diseases can "jump species" and become a human health threat, for example, bovine encephalitis. Medical entomology also includes scientific research on the behavior, ecology, and epidemiology of arthropod disease vectors, and involves a tremendous outreach to the public, including local and state officials and other stake holders in the interest of public safety.
Medical Entomologists are employed by private and public universities, private industries, and federal, state, and local government agencies, including all three branches of the US military - who hire medical entomologists to protect the troops from infectious diseases that can be transmitted by arthropods. Historically, during wars, more people have died due to insect-transmitted diseases, than to all the battle injuries combined.
Medical entomologists are also hired by chemical companies - to help develop new pesticides which will effectively decrease insect pest populations while simultaneously protecting the health of the public.
Public heath entomology has seen a huge surge in interest since 2005, due to the resurgence of the bed bug, Cimex lectularius.
Insects of medical importance
Medical entomologists work in the public health arena, dealing with insects (and other arthropods) that parasitize people, bite, sting, and/or vector disease.
The housefly is a very common and cosmopolitan species which transmits diseases to man. The organisms of both amoebic and bacillary dysenteries are picked up by flies from the faeces of infected people and transferred to clean food either on the fly's hairs or by the fly vomiting during feeding. Typhoid germs may be deposited on food with the fly's faeces. The house fly cause the spread of yaws germs by carrying them from a yaws ulcer to an ordinary sore. Houseflies also transmit poliomyelitis by carrying the virus from infected faeces to food or drink. Cholera and hepatitis are sometimes fly-borne. Other diseases carried by houseflies are Salmonella, tuberculosis, anthrax, and some forms of ophthalmia. They carry over 100 pathogens and transmit some parasitic worms. The flies in poorer and lower-hygiene areas usually carry more pathogens. Some strains have become immune to most common insecticides.
Cockroaches carry disease-causing organisms (typically gastroenteritis) as they forage. Cockroach excrement and cast skins also contain a number of allergens causing responses such as, watery eyes,skin rashes, congestion of nasal passages and asthma.
Pathogen infection transmitted by insect or other arthropod vectors.
Diseases carried by insects and other arthropod vectors affect more than 700 million people every year, and are considered the most sensitive to climatic and environment conditions.(WHO)
Major insect-born disease
- Dengue fever - Vectors: Aedes aegypti (main vector) Aedes albopictus (minor vector) threatens -50 million people are infected by dengue annually, 25,000 die. Threatens 2.5 billion people in more than 100 countries.
- Malaria - Vectors: Anopheles mosquitoes - 500 million become severely ill with malaria every year and more than 1 million die.
- Leishmaniasis - Vectors: species in the genus Lutzomyia in the New World and Phlebotomus in the Old World. Two million people infected.
- Bubonic plague - Principal vector: Xenopsylla cheopis At least 100 flea species can transmit plague. Re-emerging major threat several thousand human cases per year.High pathogenicity and rapid spread.
- Sleeping sickness - Vector: Tsetse fly, not all species. Sleeping sickness threatens millions of people in 36 countries of sub-Saharan Africa (WHO)
- Typhus - Vectors: mites, fleas and body lice 16 million cases a year, resulting in 600,000 deaths annually.
- Wuchereria bancrofti - most common vectors: the mosquito species: Culex, Anopheles, Mansonia, and Aedes; affects over 120 million people.
- Yellow Fever - Principal vectors: Aedes simpsoni, A. africanus, and A. aegypti in Africa, species in Haemagogus genus in South America, and species in Sabethes genus in France -200,000 estimated cases of yellow fever (with 30,000 deaths) per year.
- Ross River fever - Vector: Mosquitoes, main vectors A. vigilax, Aedes camptorhynchus, and Culex annulirostris
- Barmah Forest Virus - Vector: Known vectors Culex annulirostris, Ocleratus vigilax and O. camptorhynchus and Culicoides marksi
- Kunjin encephalitis (mosquitoes)
- West Nile virus - Vectors: vary according to geographical area; in the USA Culex pipiens (Eastern US), Culex tarsalis (Midwest and West), and Culex quinquefasciatus (Southeast) are the main vectors.
- Babesia - Vector Ixodes ticks.
- Chagas disease - Vector: assassin bugs of the subfamily Triatominae. The major vectors are species in the genera Triatoma, Rhodnius, and Panstrongylus.
- Mullen, G. L., and Durden, L. A., eds. 2002. Medical and Veterinary Entomology, Academic Press, NY
- ldridge, B. F., and Edman, J. D., eds. 2000. Medical Entomology: A Textbook on Public Health and Veterinary Problems Caused by Arthropods. Kluwer Academic Publishers
- Desowitz, R. S. 1991. The malaria capers. Norton and Co., New York, NY.
- Goddard, J. 2007. Physician's Guide to Arthropods of Medical Importance, Fifth Edition.Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press, ISBN 978-0-8493-8539-1 ISBN 0-8493-8539-3
- Harwood, R. F., and M. T. James. 1979. Entomology in Human and Animal Health. Macmillan Pub. Co., NY.
- Higley, L. G., L. L. Karr, and L. P. Pedigo. 1989. Manual of entomology and pest management. Macmillan Pub. Co., New York, NY—Chapter on medical pests vector and transmitted diseases table.
- McNeil, W. H. 1976. Plagues and people. Anchor Press,Doubleday, Garden City, NY.
- Service, M. 2008. Medical Entomology for Students 4th Edition Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-70928-6
- Zinsser, H. 1934. Rats, lice, and history. Little, Brown, and Co., New York, NY.
- Arbovirus infection
- Delusional parasitosis
- Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine
- Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
- Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine
- Insect indicators of abuse or neglect
- Journal of Medical Entomology
- Montana University Insects and History
- Iowa State Internet Resources for Medical and Veterinary Entomologists
- University of São Paulo Institute of Biomedical Sciences Department of Parasitology 213 images for use as teaching aids for the training and education of veterinarians. Excellent.
- WHO World Health Organization (WHO). 1989. Geographical distribution of arthropod-borne diseases and their principal vectors. Unpublished document WHO/VBC/89.967. Geneva: World Health Organization.
- Internet Archive Full text of Medical Entomology Robert Matheson
- WHO Public health sgnificance of urban pests.