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Pokémon Go and exposure to mosquito-borne diseases: how not to catch ‘em all

Pokémon Go and exposure to mosquito-borne diseases: how not to catch ‘em all
Pokémon Go and exposure to mosquito-borne diseases: how not to catch ‘em all
Pokémon Go is a new game that encourages players to venture outdoors and interact with others in the pursuit of virtual Pokémon characters. With more time spent outdoors overall and in sometimes large congregations, Pokémon Go players could inadvertently elevate their risk of exposure to mosquito-borne diseases when playing in certain areas at certain times of year. Here, we make an initial assessment of the possible scope of this concern in the continental United States, which experiences its highest seasonal transmission of West Nile, Zika, and other viruses during summer and early fall. In particular, we propose that the times of day when many disease-relevant mosquito species are most likely to engage in blood feeding coincide with times of day when Pokémon Go activity is likely to be high, and we note that locations serving as hubs of Pokémon Go activity may in some cases overlap with areas where these mosquitoes are actively engaged in blood feeding. Although the risk of mosquito-borne diseases in the continental U.S. is low overall and is unlikely to be impacted significantly by Pokémon Go, it is nonetheless important for Pokémon Go players and others who spend time outdoors engaging in activities such as barbecues and gardening to be aware of these ongoing risks and to take appropriate preventative measures in light of the potential for outdoor activity to modify individual-level risk of exposure. As Pokémon Go and other augmented reality games become available in other parts of the world, similar risks should be assessed in a manner that is consistent with the local epidemiology of mosquito-borne diseases in those areas.
1
Oidtman, Rachel J.
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Christofferson, Rebecca C.
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ten Bosch, Quirine A.
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Espana, Guido
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Kraemer, Moritz U. G.
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Tatem, Andrew
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Barker, Christopher M.
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Perkins, T. Alex
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Oidtman, Rachel J.
667a3214-3342-414c-99b8-de7fe5eecd00
Christofferson, Rebecca C.
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ten Bosch, Quirine A.
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Espana, Guido
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Kraemer, Moritz U. G.
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Tatem, Andrew
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Barker, Christopher M.
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Perkins, T. Alex
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Oidtman, Rachel J., Christofferson, Rebecca C., ten Bosch, Quirine A., Espana, Guido, Kraemer, Moritz U. G., Tatem, Andrew, Barker, Christopher M. and Perkins, T. Alex (2016) Pokémon Go and exposure to mosquito-borne diseases: how not to catch ‘em all. PLoS Currents: Outbreaks, 1. (doi:10.1371/currents.outbreaks.2d885b05c7e06a9f72e4656d56b043cd).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Pokémon Go is a new game that encourages players to venture outdoors and interact with others in the pursuit of virtual Pokémon characters. With more time spent outdoors overall and in sometimes large congregations, Pokémon Go players could inadvertently elevate their risk of exposure to mosquito-borne diseases when playing in certain areas at certain times of year. Here, we make an initial assessment of the possible scope of this concern in the continental United States, which experiences its highest seasonal transmission of West Nile, Zika, and other viruses during summer and early fall. In particular, we propose that the times of day when many disease-relevant mosquito species are most likely to engage in blood feeding coincide with times of day when Pokémon Go activity is likely to be high, and we note that locations serving as hubs of Pokémon Go activity may in some cases overlap with areas where these mosquitoes are actively engaged in blood feeding. Although the risk of mosquito-borne diseases in the continental U.S. is low overall and is unlikely to be impacted significantly by Pokémon Go, it is nonetheless important for Pokémon Go players and others who spend time outdoors engaging in activities such as barbecues and gardening to be aware of these ongoing risks and to take appropriate preventative measures in light of the potential for outdoor activity to modify individual-level risk of exposure. As Pokémon Go and other augmented reality games become available in other parts of the world, similar risks should be assessed in a manner that is consistent with the local epidemiology of mosquito-borne diseases in those areas.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 15 November 2016
Organisations: Global Env Change & Earth Observation, WorldPop, Population, Health & Wellbeing (PHeW)

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 402954
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/402954
PURE UUID: c50cd514-159f-4d4c-9246-2423d31db00a
ORCID for Andrew Tatem: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-7270-941X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 21 Nov 2016 09:32
Last modified: 07 Aug 2019 00:34

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Contributors

Author: Rachel J. Oidtman
Author: Rebecca C. Christofferson
Author: Quirine A. ten Bosch
Author: Guido Espana
Author: Moritz U. G. Kraemer
Author: Andrew Tatem ORCID iD
Author: Christopher M. Barker
Author: T. Alex Perkins

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