by Luis Mier-y-Teran-Romero, Andrew J. Tatem, Michael A. Johansson
PLoS Negl Trop Dis 11(7): e0005683 – Published: July 3, 2017
Vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika are global challenges to public health. International policies, such as the International Health Regulations, call for controlling mosquitoes on aircraft to prevent the introduction of mosquito-borne pathogens and invasive mosquito species. The research presented here used malaria and dengue data to estimate the likelihood of introduction of both pathogens via humans and mosquitoes travelling on airplanes. The authors found that the probability of introduction of either pathogen by mosquitoes is low due to few mosquitoes being found on aircraft, low infection prevalence among mosquitoes, and a short lifespan. Humans were hundreds of times more likely to spread pathogens via air travel, even in the absence of any mosquito control. Therefore, policies designed to prevent the transportation of infected mosquitoes on airplanes are unlikely to prevent the spread of vector-borne diseases.