Newly Certified Corps of Entomologists Boosts U.S. Response Capacity for Vector-Borne Disease Outbreaks

Entomological Society of America trains and certifies insect scientists to stand ready for CDC Emergency Response Teams

Annapolis, MD; July 25, 2018—The United States’ ability to respond to outbreaks of diseases spread by mosquitoes and other arthropod vectors just got stronger, as a corps of 30 professional entomologists have been newly certified as specialists ready for action if called upon by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This month, the Entomological Society of America Certification Corporation completed training 30 entomologists to be certified as Board Certified Entomologists specializing in medical and veterinary entomology. The training program was conducted as part of a contract awarded by the CDC to ESA Certification Corporation (ESACC) to grow the nation’s corps of trained vector-management professionals to serve on CDC Emergency Response Teams. Adding such expertise to the rapid-response groups fills a critical void in the CDC’s capacity to guide vector control, an essential component of disease management.

The 30 new certificants completed a year of study and training and passed their certification exams this month, and they now grow the ranks of Certified Entomologists in medical and veterinary (med/vet) entomology specialty by nearly 50 percent.

“The ESACC Certification Board is immensely proud of the work done on behalf of this contract. The revamp of the Core and Med/Vet exams means that the BCE certification is more relevant than ever—it directly reflects the most recent science related to arthropods and means that the BCE certification will remain relevant for years to come,” says Chelle Hartzer, BCE, director of the ESACC Certification Board.

“For those that took part in the training and certification offered through the agreement with the CDC, earning this credential signifies their expertise in the field of medical and veterinary entomology and allows them the opportunity to assist the CDC when the time comes. A huge thanks is due to all who helped this program through to its fruition, and congratulations are in order for the 30 newly certified BCE Med/Vets,” Hartzer says.

For nearly 50 years, the Board Certified Entomologist (BCE) program has provided a way for professional entomologists to distinguish their expertise in one of six specialty areas. For its contract with the CDC, the ESA Certification Corporation leveraged the existing framework of the BCE program to increase the number of BCEs specializing in medical and veterinary entomology. Two groups of experts in entomology convened to review and update the BCE Core Exam and the Med/Vet Specialty Exam, bringing their content in line with the very latest in research and practice in the field. The ESA Certification Corporation then developed a curriculum of self-study, webinar, and in-person training for candidates who entered the program.

"The BCE Med/Vet training program organized through ESA was immensely helpful. All of the prep work made getting ready for the exam that much easier,” says Stephanie Gorski, Ph.D., BCE, assistant professor of biology at Wiley College and a newly certified BCE Med/Vet. “I'm excited to have achieved my BCE, and I look forward to assisting CDC CERT teams as needed in the future."

The CDC created its Emergency Response Teams after lessons learned in the battle against Ebola in 2014, and the emergence of the Zika virus in 2016 highlighted the need for expertise in entomology when responding to outbreaks of vector-borne diseases. Other illnesses spread by arthropods include yellow fever, West Nile virus, malaria, chikungunya, and Lyme disease. This May, the CDC reported that illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flea bites more than tripled in the United States between 2004 and 2016, highlighting the need for improved capacity for vector-management at local, state, and national levels.

The entomological profession is committed to reducing the impact of vector-borne diseases, which is among the three initiatives being pursued under the Grand Challenge Agenda for Entomology. Growth of the BCE medical and veterinary entomology pool is a key step toward that goal.

To view the full roster of Board Certified Entomologists, visit https://www.entocert.org/roster.

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ABOUT: ESA is the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and people in related disciplines. Founded in 1889, ESA today has nearly 7,000 members affiliated with educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, the Society stands ready as a non-partisan scientific and educational resource for all insect-related topics. For more information, visit www.entsoc.org.

The ESA Certification Corporation operates two certification programs: Board Certified Entomologist, for professional and degreed entomologists, and Associate Certified Entomologist, for pest management professionals with strong training and experience in insect-related work. The BCE program, founded in the 1960s as the American Registry of Professional Entomologists, currently has more than 500 certified individuals. The ACE program was started in 2004 and has grown to more than 1,000 individuals currently certified. For more information, visit www.entocert.org.