Monitoring of insect vector populations with respect to their susceptibility to one or more insecticides is a crucial element of the strategies used for the control of arthropod-borne diseases. This management task can nowadays be achieved more efficiently when assisted by IT (Information Technology) tools, ranging from modern integrated databases to GIS (Geographic Information System). Here we describe an application ontology that we developed de novo, and a specially designed database that, based on this ontology, can be used for the purpose of controlling mosquitoes and, thus, the diseases that they transmit.
The ontology, named MIRO for Mosquito Insecticide Resistance Ontology, developed using the OBO-Edit software, describes all pertinent aspects of insecticide resistance, including specific methodology and mode of action. MIRO, then, forms the basis for the design and development of a dedicated database, IRbase, constructed using open source software, which can be used to retrieve data on mosquito populations in a temporally and spatially separate way, as well as to map the output using a Google Earth interface. The dependency of the database on the MIRO allows for a rational and efficient hierarchical search possibility.
The fact that the MIRO complies with the rules set forward by the OBO (Open Biomedical Ontologies) Foundry introduces cross-referencing with other biomedical ontologies and, thus, both MIRO and IRbase are suitable as parts of future comprehensive surveillance tools and decision support systems that will be used for the control of vector-borne diseases. MIRO is downloadable from and IRbase is accessible at VectorBase, the NIAID-sponsored open access database for arthropod vectors of disease.
It is a historical fact that a successful campaign against vector populations is one of the prerequisites for effectively fighting and eventually eradicating arthropod-borne diseases, be that in an epidemic or, even more so, in endemic cases. Based mostly on the use of insecticides and environmental management, vector control is now increasingly hampered by the occurrence of insecticide resistance that manifests itself, and spreads rapidly, briefly after the introduction of a (novel) chemical substance. We make use here of a specially built ontology, MIRO, to drive a new database, IRbase, dedicated to storing data on the occurrence of insecticide resistance in mosquito populations worldwide. The ontological approach to the design of databases offers the great advantage that these can be searched in an efficient way. Moreover, it also provides for an increased interoperability of present and future epidemiological tools. IRbase is now being populated by both older data from the literature and data recently collected from field.