Purpose and Progress in Cataloguing and Exchanging Information on Arthropod-Borne Viruses

(The Twenty-sixth Charles Franklin Craig Lecture)

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  • School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California

Summary and Discussion

If the ultimate objectives of research on arthropod-borne viruses are to control their propagation, prevent human infection, to anticipate their distant implantation and perhaps to do something to circumvent it, there must be a firm foundation of scientific information. The viruses must be readily identifiable. It must also be known where they are harbored, how they are maintained, their essential ecology including the animals and the arthropods involved, and the areas which are receptive to invasion by virtue of a favorable biological environment. To obtain this information a world-wide integrated program of surveillance and research is obligatory.

The Catalogue and the Newsletter are precursors in this program. They are both in the experimental and developmental stage and being cooperative projects their success will depend upon the sustained interest and support of the participants. It is hoped they will be instrumental in stimulating development of other features of the recommended international program.

In closing I shall assume the liberty of expressing a few thoughts on the outlook in combatting these viruses. The cycle which involves only man and an arthropod vector may be effectively controlled or even eliminated as the vector is sure to be anthropophilic in feeding preferences or domestic in its habits, frequently both, and is, therefore, vulnerable to destruction. But to effectively combat the more basic cycles which may involve virtually all of the blood-sucking arthropods and warm-blooded vertebrates, and perhaps some of the cold-blooded ones also, is a formidable undertaking and requires a great deal more knowledge than we now possess.

It is recommended, therefore, that we foster the training of personnel in all of the disciplines that are involved in obtaining a better understanding of the nature and behavior of these parasites. There must be leadership, of course, and there will be need for coordinated management but, above all, there will be required a vanguard of unassuming, dedicated and welltrained men and women with open and inquisitive minds,—virologists and immunologists in the laboratory and far flung in the field, epidemiologists, ecologists and naturalists aided by entomologists, ornithologists and mammalogists. Each may carry only a candle, but if there are enough of them strategically placed and working together toward a common objective, they may illuminate the path to wisdom. And in the meantime, please let us be humble rather than boastful in predicting our accomplishments. For when we start tampering with nature on a massive scale we should know what we are about, lest we encounter some unexpected obstacles or some unanticipated results.