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article imageChikungunya challenge project announced

By Tim Sandle     Aug 23, 2014 in Science
Washington - A challenge has been laid down for scientists. The contest aims to identify models that accurately forecast outbreaks of the mosquito spread viral disease chikungunya.
Chikungunya fever is a disease transmitted to humans by virus-carrying Aedes mosquitoes. The unusual name for the virus — Chikungunya — comes from the Makonde people of Tanzania and northern Mozambique, and it means "that which bends up."
Models that can calculate the spread of chikungunya virus in the Caribbean and North, Central, and South Americas are being sought in a contest for scientists. The contest has been organized by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Accurately predicting the next chikungunya outbreak could help prevent the spread of the vector-borne infection. It is thought that chikungunya virus is transmitted through a three-way interaction that relates to viral strain, mosquito genotype, and ambient temperature.
This is the first health-related challenge announced by DARPA’s new Biological Technologies Office division; awards of $150,000 and $100,000 have been announced for the top two solvers, with four honorable mention awards of $50,000 each.
Discussing the project, DARPA Program Manager Matthew Hepburn told ScienceInsider that the U.S. Agency is seeking technologies that can be used to make decisions if an outbreak occurs. “It’s one thing to know what’s happening on the ground currently,” he said. “But really to design your response decisions, you need to know what’s going to happen next.”
More about Chikungunya, Virus, Spread, Epidemiology, Darpa
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