About

I lead a diverse group of health practitioners and research scientists whose collective goal is to prevent vector-borne disease, especially dengue, in north Queensland.

We have received two NHMRC grants to develop green “Lure and Kill” dengue control programs for North Queensland.  I have been a principal investigator in the Eliminate Dengue program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation since its inception in 2005. This innovative project utilises the bacterium Wolbachia to prevent the dengue vector Aedes aegypti from transmitting dengue viruses.  This partnership has already developed a molecular method to estimate the age of individual mosquitoes, and demonstrated that the parasite can effectively work in the laboratory and in semi-field cages. We are currently evaluating open field releases of Wolbachia-infected Ae. aegypti mosquitoes in Cairns. 

I am also involved in new projects studying the potential impact of global warming on dengue in Australia, new pesticides for the control of Ae. aegypti and the development of novel mosquito traps for the detection of pathogens in mosquitoes and other disease vectors.

I was employed as Director, Medical Entomology at the Tropical Regional Services (formerly Tropical Public Health Unit), the preventative health arm of Queensland Health in North Queensland, from 1994-2011.  There I have helped develop the world recognised Dengue Fever Management Plan for North Queensland. 

Teaching
  • TM5518: Medical Entomology (Level 5; CNS)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
Publications

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
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ResearchOnline@JCU stores 154+ research outputs authored by Prof Scott Ritchie from 1998 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

NHMRC - Centres of Research Excellence

Australian Partnership (for) Preparedness Research on INfectiouS (disease) Emergencies (APPRISE)

Indicative Funding
$20,000 (administered by University of Melbourne)
Summary
To ensure national and regional health security, emergency responses to infectious diseases must be highly effective, coordinated and based on the best available evidence. Research coordination, adaptable research protocols and efficient, secure data sharing are needed to develop a strong evidence base for preparedness, response and recovery from such events. This national consortium, with engagement of key animal health, community and international collaborators will focus on the major infectious diseases threats including influenza, coronaviruses, haemorrhagic viral diseases, arboviruses, syndromic presentations of novel pathogens and antimicrobial resistance. JCU involvement is through Prof. Ritchie and Peter Massey who are Ais on the project, offering advise. No funds are provided to JCU.
Investigators
Sharon Lewin, Tania Sorrell, Jodie McVernon, Steve Webb, John Kaldor, ross andrews, Allen Cheng, Gwendolyn Gilbert, David Smith, Soren Alexandersen and Scott Ritchie in collaboration with Peter Massey (The University of Melbourne, Westmead Millennium Institute, The University of Western Australia, The University of New South Wales, Menzies School of Health Research, Monash University, The University of Sydney, PathWest Laboratory Medicine, Deakin University, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and College of Medicine & Dentistry)
Keywords
Tropical Health; Mosquito; Dengue; Zika

CRC for Developing Northern Australia Scheme - Projects

Strategies to prevent two viruses devaluing Australian crocodile skins

Indicative Funding
$39,000 over 4 years (administered by Porosus Pty Ltd - Centre for Crocodile Research)
Summary
Two viruses have been shown recently to infect crocodiles and damage their skins, resulting in losses to the economic value of the animals. There is evidence that the viruses are mosquito borne. JCU Cairns will set mosquito traps and monitor virus infection at a crocodile farm near Cairns, and provide trapping technology to be used at a farm near Darwin in order to better understand the natural history of the viruses and the risk they pose to the crocodile industry. JCU will receive $75 over 3 years.
Investigators
Scott Ritchie, Sally Isberg, Roy Hall, David Tscharke and Karla Helbig (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Centre for Crocodile Research, The University of Queensland, Australian National University and La Trobe University)
Keywords
Kunjin virus; Mosquito; crocodile

NHMRC - Northern Australia Tropical Disease Collaborative Research Programme Hot North Fellowship

Application for Next Generation Sequencing of mosquito excreta to identify arboviruses, microorganisms and mosquito species

Indicative Funding
$35,000 (administered by Menzies School of Health Research)
Summary
Traditional testing for arboviruses in mosquitoes requires a priori knowledge and choosing appropriate assays for their detection. Mosquitoes can potentially provide a lot of additional information, including other unexpected or unknown arboviruses, and their own genetic material. Moreover, mosquitoes in effect act as environmental samplers (?flying syringes?), taking blood from the humans and animals they feed upon. These blood samples could potentially be infected with other pathogens that are not necessarily mosquito-transmitted. Next generation sequencing is a rapidly advancing technology that allows us to obtain all this information from a sample without any prior knowledge of virus, host or vector. We are proposing to use next generation sequencing of mosquito excreta to identify pathogens in mosquitoes collected from locations where different vertebrate groups inhabit, including urban areas, bat colonies, domesticated animals, marsupials, reptiles and avian hosts.
Investigators
Andrew van den Hurk, Scott Ritchie, Dagmar Meyer Steiger, David Warrilow, Alyssa Pyke, Ana Ramirez Lopez and Michael Townsend (Queensland Health Forensic & Scientific Services, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Keywords
Arbovirus; Mosquito; Next Generation Sequencing

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Metofluthrin, a targeted intervention for high-risk persons during Zika, dengue, and emerging mosquito-borne disease outbreaks in far north Queensland

Indicative Funding
$24,000
Summary
In far north Queensland we have one of the world's most important mosquito vectors of dengue, Zika, and other viruses of public health significance. In this study, we look at interventions to protect high risk individuals from vector-borne disease in the event an outbreak scenario.
Investigators
Tamara Buhagiar and Scott Ritchie in collaboration with Gregor Devine (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and Queensland Institute of Medical Research)
Keywords
Aedes aegypti; Dengue; Vector Control; Zika; Intervention; Emerging Infectious Diseases

Menzies School of Health Research - Ext_Source: NHMRC NATDCRP Hot North Pilot

Can mosquito excreta be used to enhance detection of Australian vector-borne diseases?

Indicative Funding
$31,000 (administered by Menzies School of Health Research)
Summary
Testing for presence of arboviruses usually involves capturing wild mosquitoes and complicated laboratory analyses. These are not only time- and labour-intensive but also costly. Virus detection can be made from saliva however, mosquitoes only expel very small amounts which makes detection difficult. We are proposing to use their excreta instead as it is produced in greater quantities than saliva, and shows higher sensitivity in virus detection. In order to explore this proposal we need to know where and when mosquitoes discharge their excreta in the traps. The discharge of excreta could be dependent on a variety of factors such as temperature, time after last meal or time of day/night, type of trap; it may also be species-dependent or it could just be random. These factors need to be examined to ensure maximum collection of excreta. The results will lead to the modification and optimization of existing traps.
Investigators
Scott Ritchie, Dagmar Meyer Steiger, Ana Ramirez Lopez, Andrew van den Hurk and Nina Kurucz (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, Queensland Health and Department of Health (NT))
Keywords
Arbovirus; Mosquito; Encephalitis

NHMRC - Project Grant

Release the sterile males: A new direction for mosquito population control

Indicative Funding
$150,000 over 2 years (administered by CSIRO)
Summary
Using RNA interference (RNAi) technology, we can expose insects to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) during larval development in a manner which will shut down sperm production in fit, adult males and either stop females emerging or transform female larvae into sterile male phenotypes. This Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) approach would simultaneously remove the requirement for female/male separation and so enhance the efficiency of release programmes. We will rear and release dengue vectors Aedes aegypti that have been in colony and have never been exposed to dengue or other arboviruses. These will be reared in the presence of dsRNA to sterilise the males; females (ca. 96%) will be killed by this method. These sterile males will then be released into a semi-field cage (JCU Mosquito Research Facility) containing 100-500 uninfected Ae. aegypti. The sterile males should mate with females resulting in a crash in the population through time, providing a proof of concept for the method.
Investigators
Nigel Beebe, Scott Ritchie, Steve Whyard and Paul DeBarro (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and The University of Manitoba)

United States Department of Defence - Deployed war fighter protection research program

Deployment of optimal-dose, volatile pyrethroids for the prevention of biting and disease transmission by insects

Indicative Funding
$243,972 over 3 years (administered by QIMR)
Summary
We will measure the efficacy of volatile synthetic pyrethroid insecticides against several mosquito vectors of disease, including the dengue mosquito Aedes aegypti. Trials will be conducted in the lab and in room situations to simulate real world situations.
Investigators
Scott Ritchie and Gregor Devine (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and Queensland Institute of Medical Research)
Keywords
Dengue; Aedes aegypti mosquitoes; insecticide

NHMRC - Research Fellowship

Senior Research Fellowship A

Indicative Funding
$718,826 over 6 years
Summary
North Queensland and the adjacent tropics are subject to incursions of exotic mosquitoes and the diseases they vector, especially dengue. I lead a diverse group of health researchers at JCU that develop strategies to prevent vector-borne disease in North Queensland that have global application. I am also employed as a consultant medical entomologies with Queensland Health, and thus am able to strategically apply my research on vector-borne diseases to end users.
Investigators
Scott Ritchie (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Arbovirus; Arbovirus diseases; Mosquito -borne disease; Dengue; Encephalitis

US Agency for International Development - USAID

Zika: A fast new intervention and an innovative method of evaluation

Indicative Funding
$100,135 (administered by Queensland Institute of Medical Research Berghofer)
Summary
We will provide access to the Mosquito Research Facility for testing of rapid methods to control Zika vector Ae. aegypti. This will include new near IR methods to age mosquitoes within our semi-field cages. We will study the impact of vapour active insecticides and influence of Wolbachia infection on the method.
Investigators
Scott Ritchie, Chris Paton and Gregor Devine (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, University of Oxford and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute)
Keywords
Dengue; Zika; Aedes aegypti

Western Australia Department of Health - Funding Initiative for Mosquito Management in Western Australia (FIMMWA)

Efficacy of sentinel passive traps (SMACKs) and FTA cards for arbovirus surveillance in Western Australia and the Northern Territory

Indicative Funding
$51,135 over 2 years
Summary
Mosquito-borne viruses (e.g. Ross River virus, Murray Valley encephalitis virus and Kunjin virus) cause human disease in Western Australia. Current surveillance relies on sentinel chicken flocks for antibody detection and mosquito collections for virus detection. Recently developed Sentinel Mosquito Arbovirus Capture Kits (SMACK) consisting of passive traps baited with CO2 and honey-baited FTA nucleic acid preservation cards to directly monitor these viruses in remote areas. To confirm that the FTA card system is effective we will compare virus detection rates in SMACKs run parallel with sentinel chicken flocks in remote WA and the NT areas. A full costing will also be conducted.
Investigators
Scott Ritchie and John Smith in collaboration with Brian Johnson, Cheryl Johansen, Linda Selvey, Michael Lindsay, David Smith and Nina Kurucz (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, The University of Western Australia, PathWest Laboratory Medicine, Curtin University of Technology, WA Department of Health and Department of Health (NT))
Keywords
Arbovirus surveillance; Ross River Virus; Murray Valley Encephalitis; Sentinel Animals; West Nile Virus (Kunjin subtype)

Monash University - Contract Research

Elimate Dengue Project

Indicative Funding
$156,990 over 2 years
Summary
This project will provide Wolbachia infected Aedes aegypti for release in Cairns and Townsville as part of the Eliminate Dengue program. It will also investigate methods to mass produce and ship egg strips.
Investigators
Scott Ritchie (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Dengue; Wolbachia; Mosquito

Queensland Health - Health Practitioner Research Grant

A new era in dengue control: adoption of vector control methods compatible with the release of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes

Indicative Funding
$30,000 over 2 years
Summary
This project will develop an integrated disease-vector control strategy to protect the public from dengue. It capitalises on a critical mass of expertise at Queensland Health, a productive relationship with James Cook University, and a need to develop strategies that complement the Eliminate Dengue program. Primary aim: Develop new tools for vector control and demonstrate their compatibility with Wolbachia-release programs*. i. Optimise the auto-dissemination technique with regard to Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus breeding sites. Evaluate a combined auto-dissemination / source reduction approach against source reduction alone. ii. Test the efficacy of the most recent iteration of metofluthrin emanators. Assess their impact on adult mosquito abundance in an indoor urban environment. iii. Demonstrate that these tools complement Wolbachia-release strategies by proving that the survival and ecology of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes is unaffected by any residual impacts of these tools following removal from study sites.
Investigators
Gregor Devine, Odwell Muzari, Joe Davis and Scott Ritchie (Queensland Health, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Keywords
Dengue; Aedes aegypti mosquitoes; Mosquito
Supervision

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

Current
  • Larval density and adult fitness in Anopheles farauti: Towards understanding how larval control may impact transmission by adults (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • When World's Collide: Where and When Anophelines and Humans Interact Impacts Malaria Transmission (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Using Mosquito Excreta to Enhance Mosquito-Borne Disease Surveillance (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
  • Ecological Investigations and Control of Mosquito Disease Vectors (Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus) in the Torres Strait (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
  • Survey of Dengue Fever Vectors and its Serotype Viruses in Solomon Islands (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
Completed
Collaboration

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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