A model framework to estimate impact and cost of genetics-based sterile insect methods for dengue vector control.
Alphey N., Alphey L., Bonsall MB.
Vector-borne diseases impose enormous health and economic burdens and additional methods to control vector populations are clearly needed. The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) has been successful against agricultural pests, but is not in large-scale use for suppressing or eliminating mosquito populations. Genetic RIDL technology (Release of Insects carrying a Dominant Lethal) is a proposed modification that involves releasing insects that are homozygous for a repressible dominant lethal genetic construct rather than being sterilized by irradiation, and could potentially overcome some technical difficulties with the conventional SIT technology. Using the arboviral disease dengue as an example, we combine vector population dynamics and epidemiological models to explore the effect of a program of RIDL releases on disease transmission. We use these to derive a preliminary estimate of the potential cost-effectiveness of vector control by applying estimates of the costs of SIT. We predict that this genetic control strategy could eliminate dengue rapidly from a human community, and at lower expense (approximately US$ 2~30 per case averted) than the direct and indirect costs of disease (mean US$ 86-190 per case of dengue). The theoretical framework has wider potential use; by appropriately adapting or replacing each component of the framework (entomological, epidemiological, vector control bio-economics and health economics), it could be applied to other vector-borne diseases or vector control strategies and extended to include other health interventions.