Praise New Technology Stopping Disease-Spreading Insects


Target: Steven Peck, Associate Professor, Brigham Young University

Goal: Thank Steven Peck for creating computer models that will help to eliminate sleeping sickness

In July of 2000 the African Heads of State and Government decided to create The Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC) to annihilate tsetse flies, a type of fly that can cause sleeping sickness in humans.

Sleeping sickness is a horrible disease, causing fevers, itchiness, joint pain, poor coordination, and a myriad of other ghastly symptoms. The disease causes around 9,000 deaths per year.

However, according to Pacific Standard, a team of researchers led by biomathemetician Steven Peck is using geographic information systems (GIS) mapping and other computer modeling technologies to pinpoint the exact locations of the tsetse flies.

Their research allowed them to recreate the environment of the tsetse fly well enough to discover that within a 120,000 acre range of where the tsetse fly could potentially inhabit, the fly actually can only realistically exist within 2o,000 acres of that space. Using the model in reality allowed PATTEC to either trap the flies or release sterilized male flies into the zones as to block remaining flies from breeding.

Disease is a huge threat to the human race. As more and more people enter the earth every second of every day, the risk of a threatening pandemic becomes ever the more likely. Although sleeping sickness has not yet become a pandemic, testing out this technology on the tsetse fly could provide other researchers with the tools to wipe out other parasitic diseases. Help us thank Peck and his team for their impressive use of technology.


Dear Mr. Peck,

This letter is being written to acknowledge you and your team for the remarkable work you all have done. Through your clever use of computer modeling and GIS mapping, The Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC) can come closer to their goal of expunging tsetse flies and sleeping sickness from the African countries that suffer from it.

As more people enter the world and more diseases enter with them, so does the likelihood of a pandemic. Although specific to sleeping sickness, a so far non-threatening disease when compared to AIDS or other illnesses, your clever use of this technology could be adapted to attack other parasitic diseases and beyond.

Thank you for your strong effort.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Thomas Bresson via Wikimedia Commons

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