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·         Research revealed emerging infectious diseases remain a public health priority in the region with future research required

·         Study carried out by researchers from Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences discussed at 6th Public Health Conference at Arab Health 2019 in Dubai

Researchers from the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences today discussed the findings of a pilot study carried out to identify disease pathogens carried by mosquitoes and transmitted to humans and animals in the UAE and Oman.

During the opening day of the Public Health Conference, which is taking place at Arab Health 2019 in Dubai, it was agreed that infectious diseases should remain a public health priority and future research and ongoing surveillance is required.

The study was carried out by Norbert Nowotny, Professor of Microbiology (Virology) at the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dubai, UAE, in

cooperation with Dr Jeremy Camp, an entomologist at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, and Dr Derek Roberts, entomologist at Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, for studying potential mosquito-borne diseases.

Commenting on the importance of the pilot study, Professor Nowotny said: “Little is known about pathogens carried by mosquitoes and transmitted to humans and animals in the Middle East, although a relatively high number of people acutely infected with mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue are travelling to the UAE and are diagnosed and treated here. Since specific viruses are usually transmitted by certain mosquito species only, it is of utmost importance to know which mosquito species are present in a country.”

“Our pilot studies need to be extended significantly in order to get a better knowledge of the mosquito fauna present in the UAE and in Oman.”

The pilot study involved trapping mosquitoes at different areas in the UAE and Oman, in order to understand the variety of mosquito species present in the countries and, secondly, the trapped mosquitoes were investigated by molecular methods for the presence of viruses.

During the study, researchers found Culex mosquitoes, for example, which might transmit the West Nile virus (WNV), and the West Nile disease was identified in the UAE in animals and in Oman also in humans. However, in the sample material, researchers did not find WNV.

“Regarding the mosquito species diversity, it is also important to know which mosquito species have not been detected. For example, we did not detect Aedes aegypti, which is the main vector for Dengue and Zika viruses. Consequently, local transmission of Dengue or Zika viruses seems to be unlikely,” added Professor Nowotny.

Over the course of today’s Public Health Conference at Arab Health 2019, the programme outlined several important areas in which public health bodies can contribute to making overall emergency and disaster management more effective.

“Speakers discussed health effects of some of the more important sudden impact disasters and potential future threats while outlining the requirements for effective emergency medical and public health response to these events,” commented Ross Williams, Exhibition Director, Arab Health.

Attendees will reconvene at the Public Health Conference tomorrow (31st January) to hear the latest updates on how to measure and address the effect of public health interventions on communities, as well as how to identify a comprehensive public health response to population ageing and women’s health issue in the region.

With 11 conferences, Arab Health Congress is one of the largest CME accredited multi-track medical conference in the world. Running from 28 – 31 January 2019 at the Dubai World Trade Centre and Conrad Dubai, more than 4,500 delegates and 300 international and regional speakers will be welcomed over the four days of the Congress.

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