Public Surveillance Helps Officials Track Chagas
Inspired by a successful community-based effort to track Chagas in Central and South America, researchers at Texas A & M set up their own citizen science program to track Chagas in Texas. They provided the public with information about the disease and the program using pamphlets, educational websites, local news station announcements, and phone communication. Through these outlets citizens were encouraged to submit kissing bug specimens to local authorities. The samples were sent to a laboratory for the researchers to study. The researchers tested the samples for the parasite carrying Chagas, and notified the citizens of the infection status of their sample. Using all of the data they collected, the researchers created an interactive map of the location of all the submissions and posted it on their website. With the overwhelming number of responses and submissions they received, the researchers were able to study the geographic distribution of the insect, including what kind of environment they were mostly found in.
Do you think using citizens as a means of studying the spread of these insects and the disease is a good way to study them?