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Emeritus Professor Duane Gubler is an international expert on vector borne-infectious diseases and a go-to spokesperson for the media for all things infectious disease-related. This year alone he has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Straits Times, and Vox, among other media outlets.

“Arboviruses: Molecular Biology, Evolution and Control on arboviruses”, a well-received book edited by Prof Gubler, looks at viruses that are transmitted by arthropod vectors, such as mosquitoes, flies, sand flies, lice, fleas, ticks and mites. Since Zika was declared a major global emergency last year, and dengue remains a consistent health threat and concern, the text is a much welcome contribution to the literature on these groups of viruses.

Microscope caught up with Prof Gubler for more on his book and his thoughts on global health concerns:

How did you come up with the concept for this book?

I was approached by several publishers to edit and compile a book that looked at arboviruses. In the past 30 years there has been a dramatic increase in emerging epidemic arboviral diseases, which explains the interest and demand for such a book.

What were your considerations when choosing the contributors/topics for each chapter?

My co-editor, Nikos Vasilakis and I, wanted to get the global thought leaders in the field to review current status of various topics including the genomic organisation of arboviruses, host metabolism, arbovirus evolution and more.

Who is this book meant for?

This book is meant for everyone and anyone interested in infectious diseases, which include students, professors, public health officials, researchers, policy makers and more.

If there was one thing you would want a reader to take away from this book, what would it be?

That the major causes of the current dramatic emergence of epidemic infectious diseases are the result of human activity. If we are to be successful in containing these diseases, the public needs to help health authorities to control them.

The media frequently approach you for comments on and insight into arboviruses. Why do you think it’s important to share your knowledge with the public?

The principal drivers of emerging infectious diseases are related to demographic, social, cultural and technological trends, so I think it’s important to share knowledge and information about these diseases and what can cause them.

As one of the foremost arbovirus experts in the world, what are your major concerns about arbovirus spread?

The global trends I mentioned above will result in continued emergence and increasing epidemic activity. Epidemic infectious diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes or by the respiratory route are among the greatest threats to global economic and public health security.

What, in your opinion, is the most urgent gap in infectious disease research/management that should be addressed?

The lack of effective early warning surveillance and control systems that can detect, identify and contain emerging pathogens before they begin to spread, and the lack of vaccines, drugs and mosquito control tools that can be used to prevent and control epidemic infectious diseases.

If mosquitoes became extinct, which vector do you foresee would take its place?

There are over 3000 species of mosquitoes; they will not become extinct!

Emeritus Professor Duane Gubler is the founding director of Duke-NUS Medical School’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme, the chair of the Singapore National Environment Agency’s Dengue Advisory Panel and a member of the WHO’s Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Disease Dengue Scientific Working Group. To find out more about his book, please click on this link.


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