Buzzkill for Bugs: Jillian Bowen educates children about insect-borne diseases

Backyard barbecues, pristine hikes, days spent by the sea. These are all treasured summer activities in Connecticut. Although residents of the Nutmeg State have many hot weather pastimes, they are not entirely without risk. Tick ​​and mosquito-borne viruses are an ongoing concern not just in Connecticut, but across the country and around the world.

Jillian Bowen ’25 (CAHNR) spends her summer working with the UConn One Health office to educate UConn 4-H members and Connecticut residents on how to take advantage of all that summer in the state has to offer without all the risk.

Bowen, a Trumbull native, creates educational presentations, workbooks and infographics with information on topics such as ticks, mosquitoes, zoonotic diseases and antibiotic resistance in an area of ​​health studies that is not well understood by the public – One Health.

One Health is an approach that emphasizes the interconnection between human, animal and ecological health.

For example, mosquito-borne diseases, such as West Nile virus or Zika virus, are transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have picked up the virus from another animal. The prevalence of these types of diseases in the United States is increasing due to climate change expanding the range of mosquitoes and human expansion into new areas of mosquito habitat.

“When you focus only on one of these [aspects of health], you don’t get the full picture of what’s contributing to these issues,” says Bowen. “If we don’t look at climate change, or if we don’t look at how we’re doing in different areas, we’re missing a big chunk of tick and mosquito-borne diseases and we’re not going to be prepared for the future. “

All About Tick Safety

Ticks carry many diseases and can make you very sick.

Here are some ways to prevent tick-borne diseases for you and your pets, at home and wherever you go!

  • Remove dead leaves and brush around your house, and don’t forget to mow your lawn often!
  • On trails, walk in the center to avoid brush
  • Wear light-colored sleeves and pants to easily spot ticks
  • Perform tick checks on yourself and your pets

All About Mosquito Safety

Mosquitoes carry many diseases and can make you very sick. Here are some ways to minimize mosquito populations in and around your home and protect yourself from mosquito bites wherever you go!

  • Empty all sources of standing water
  • Tightly cover garbage cans and rain barrels
  • Keep the lawn cut short
  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent
  • Wear long sleeves and pants

Bowen’s teaching materials focus on facts about the subject, such as the anatomy, habitat, and life cycle of ticks or mosquitoes. Bowen also includes information on how to prevent diseases carried by these insects, such as draining water collected from yards where mosquitoes could breed, or wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants outside. outside.

“I thought it was important to share because both kids and adults can take steps to reduce the risk of getting these diseases,” Bowen says.

Bowen designed these materials for elementary and middle school students in UConn 4-H programs throughout Connecticut. 4-H is a national youth organization where members receive mentorship and education on topics including health, STEM, agriculture, and civic engagement. UConn’s program is administered by UConn Extension with offices throughout the state.

While Bowen focuses its information resources for Connecticut, anyone can use the online resources.

Bowen, an animal science and pathobiology major, says the experience piqued her interest in potentially pursuing both education and research.

“I really like to research, so finding all this information on topics I’m interested in has been really fun,” says Bowen.

UConn’s One Health Office promotes holistic One Health concepts to address complex health issues through educational and experiential learning programs.

The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural ResourcesExtension courses provide students with the opportunity to learn and work in a paid, career-oriented role.

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