High school students from Nogales, along with their peers from the Tohono O’odham Nation, will get a taste of what it means to be an epidemiologist as they work this year to prevent mosquito-borne diseases.
The teens are members of Future Healthcare Leaders (FHL), a high school-based health career exploration program sponsored by the Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center (SEAHEC).
The FHL clubs at Nogales and Tohono O’odham high schools have been working with program coordinator Claudia Velasco to learn how to identify and track mosquitos that spread illnesses such as dengue, chikungunya and zika virus. Mariana Casal and Nicolette Dent of the Arizona Department of Health Services, along with Jose Arriola of the Santa Cruz County Health Services Department, have offered technical assistance and guidance using protocols from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Later this year the students will share what they have learned with their communities through health education campaigns, “giving the students an opportunity to study population health, hands-on, at the community level,” SEAHEC said.
The SEAHEC FHL Mosquito Surveillance Project is also part of the updated sister cities agreement signed earlier this year by the mayors of Nogales, Ariz. and Nogales, Sonora. The new pact established a number of committees, including a health committee, and the FHL club will work within that framework to raise awareness about how to prevent mosquito-borne diseases.