How the new mozzie emoji can create buzz to battle mosquito-borne disease

  • Written by Cameron Webb, Clinical Lecturer and Principal Hospital Scientist, University of Sydney

Mosquitoes are coming. The Unicode Consortium has just announced that alongside your smiling face – or perhaps crying face – emoji you’ll soon be able to add a mosquito.

The mosquito emoji will join the rabble of emoji wildlife including butterflies, bees, whales and rabbits.

We see a strong case that the addition of the much maligned mozzie to your emoji toolbox could help health authorities battle the health risks associated with these bloodsucking pests.

Read more: Why I use emoji in research and teaching

How the new mozzie emoji can create buzz to battle mosquito-borne disease It may be small but it could make all the difference in battling mosquito-borne disease outbreaks. https://emojipedia.org/mosquito/

Given it is the most dangerous animal on the planet, the mosquito is more than deserving of an emoji. But will it make a difference to the way the science behind mosquito research is communicated? Could it influence how the community engages with public health messages of local authorities? Will more people wear insect repellent because of the mosquito emoji?

We won’t know for sure until the mozzie is released.

Where did the mosquito emoji idea come from?

A staggering sixty million emoji are shared on Facebook each day!

We’ve needed a mosquito emoji for a while now (although the blood filled syringe has been a useful substitute). While heavily promoted last year by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it was one of us, an Australian virologist, who played a critical role in the emoji’s development by submitting the original proposal in June 2016.

The idea arose during the Zika virus epidemic in South America, when the mosquito-borne infection was triggering many questions and few answers. While the emoji doesn’t represent a specific mosquito species, it captures the distinctive shape of a mosquito.

How the new mozzie emoji can create buzz to battle mosquito-borne disease Time spent outdoors may be the perfect opportunity to employ the mozzie emoji. jiulliano

How might a mozzie emoji make a difference?

The mozzie emoji will give health professionals and academics a more relatable way to communicate health risks and new research using social media.

Surveillance programs across the world routinely monitor mosquitoes. Local health authorities could simply tweet a string of mozzie emoji to indicate the relative mosquito risk or identify that there is a risk. Adding in the new microbe emoji (currently in the form of a generic green microscopic shape) could even indicate the presence of mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue virus, West Nile virus or Ross River virus.

Emoji could remind us to tip out, drain or cover backyard water-holding containers that may be a source of mosquitoes following rain. Weather monitoring services or health authorities could simply add the mosquito emoji in alerts featuring a string of storm clouds and water droplets.

More than likely, it’ll be used by the public to punctuate those summer tweets complaining of bites and bumps following backyard BBQs.

Read more: The best (and worst) ways to beat mosquito bites

Social media is changing public health

Social media will continue to play a role in public health campaigns. Whether promoting better nutrition, encouraging exercise or addressing concerns over vaccine coverage, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and whatever platform comes next will remain important for the communication tool kits of local health authorities.

Smartphones have already been identified as tools for surveillance of mosquito-borne disease outbreaks.

The addition of a mosquito emoji, together with concise public health messaging, may increase the chances a message hits home, maybe even changing behaviour and reducing the risk of bites.

Simple communication works

The usefulness of emoji as a communication tool has been shown in several fields of research. Emoji can accurately express emotional associations with commercial products, reflect state of mind in cancer patients and aid communication with sick young patients.

Applying these examples to the mozzie emoji, we predict it may aid citizen science – for example, if the community can signal how bad nuisance-biting mosquitoes are in their area. Perhaps this mobile surveillance network could help pick up the introduction of exotic mosquitoes such as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, a species often first detected because of reports by the community. Measuring a rise in mozzie emoji use may identify regions under attack by mosquitoes.

Read more: New mosquito threats shift risks from our swamps to our suburbs

Big corporations have already identified the usefulness of emoji, and fork out serious cash for hashtag-customized emoji. If branded emoji work for commercial enterprises, why not for public health and why not a mosquito? A simple image may provide a critical reminder to put on insect repellent, sleep under a bed net or get appropriately vaccinated for mosquito-borne diseases such as Japanese encephalitis or Yellow Fever.

It is increasingly difficult to escape our social media streams, and emoji use shows no sign of waning. Health authorities should embrace these tiny visual prompts to better engage the community with key health messages.

The mozzie emoji may pave the way for more medically important arthropods: perhaps the tick, flea, lice and bed bug emoji will be on their way soon. Perhaps even viruses and bacteria.

From the middle of 2018, we look forward to watching the creative ways researchers, health workers and the general public incorporate the mosquito emoji into their communications.

Authors: Cameron Webb, Clinical Lecturer and Principal Hospital Scientist, University of Sydney

Read more http://theconversation.com/how-the-new-mozzie-emoji-can-create-buzz-to-battle-mosquito-borne-disease-91649

Australia Today

could someone take ownership of a planet or a moon?

Melissa de Zwart, Professor, Adelaide Law School, University of Adelaide

This is an article from I’ve Always Wondered, a series where readers send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. Send your question to alwayswondered@theconversation.edu.auI have always wondered, in a distant future when humanity is able to settle permanently on a distant body (su...

Read more

Fewer Australian university students than ever before believe in creationism

Mike Archer, Professor, Pangea Research Centre, UNSW

The dominant belief among Australian university students now is that God had no hand in creating or developing humans.www.shutterstock.comAustralian university students appear to give far more credit to the science of human evolution and far less to creationism or divine guidance than the previous g...

Read more

Are Australian bridges safe, and can we do better?

Colin Caprani, Senior Lecturer, Structural Engineering, Monash University

There are more than 50,000 public bridges in Australia. (The Sea Cliff bridge is one Australia's newer bridges, built in 2005).from shutterstock.comAfter the tragedy in the Italian city Genoa, where a highway bridge collapsed killing more than 40 people, nations seem to be taking stock of the mainte...

Read more

Research shows 'merit' is highly subjective and changes with our values

Sue Williamson, Lecturer, Human Resource Management, UNSW Canberra, UNSW

Selection panels interrupt women more than men and ask them more follow-up questions, subtly questioning their competence.Andrey Popov/ShutterstockWho is meritorious, what constitutes merit, and how merit and gender targets can operate together are widely misunderstood questions, as our new research...

Read more

Fierravanti-Wells resigns from ministry, accusing Turnbull of ignoring Liberal party's conservative base

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

The Minister for International Development and the Pacific, senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, has quit the frontbench, delivering a swingeing attack on Malcolm Turnbull for ignoring the Liberals’ conservative base.In her resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Fierravanti-Wells reminded hi...

Read more

Labor now does politics better than the Liberals

Geoffrey Robinson, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University

Happy days: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in parliament.AAP/Mick TsikasThe obverse of the current crisis in Australian conservative politics is the resilience of the Australian left.The Labor Party has twice climbed off the canvas after dramatic political setbacks: the Rudd-Gillard civil war and th...

Read more

Holidays & Travel

Guide to Travel Necessities for 2018

Sure, it sounds like quite an adventure to hit an open road with nothing but a one-way ticket and an open mind, but the harsh reality is – you won’t...

Top Sightseeing Spots in New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most fascinating locations for anyone to visit in the world. After all, it’s a place with a variety of unique landscapes, but it isn’t...

Must-Pack Items for a Travel Blogging Boss

As a travel blogger, you get to see and explore so many wonderful destinations and meet various interesting people, but before you embark on a new adventure you need to...

Luxury Camping Adventures Around the World

Perhaps in direct response to the dominance of technology in the modern world, many travelers are feeling a strong draw towards nature. While some are able to fully embrace their...

Dredging works underway Plantation Island

Tourists and workers travelling to popular tourist destination Plantation Island, Fiji, are set to benefit from safer access when marine channel dredging is completed at the end of June 2018...

Top 5 Tips for Traveling With Dogs

Travelling with your dog can be thrilling, but sometimes it can turn into a real nuisance. Unless you know how to properly restrain the pooch, whether it’ll be able to...

Top Island Destinations for 2018

When we picture island destinations in our minds, we often imagine a tropical beach of white sand, a sun lounger laid out in the shade of a line of palm...

Why Car Rental Excess Insurance is a Smart Choice

Some car rental agencies include basic damage cover in the standard rental fee, with the option to add on liability reduction, or excess insurance. The addition of excess insurance normally...

More Than a Third of Australians Feel 'Too Busy' With Work to Take a Holiday

New research from InterContinental Hotel & Resorts has unveiled a large number of Australians (32 percent) are simply too busy with work to take some much-needed rest and relaxation. Almost...

Fashion & Beauty

Groom To Do List

Sorry Aussie Men, you no longer just pay for the alcohol, flowers and marriage license. Times have certainly changed. Wedding Expert shares what Australian Grooms are now expected to do before...

Simple Secrets To A More Confident Smile

We all know just how important first impressions are. After a handshake, what’s one of the first things people will notice about you? It’s your smile. A friendly smile is...

Improve Your Body Confidence and Feel Great

No matter how good you feel about yourself, sometimes you just can’t help but see a few little flaws that seem gigantic to you and make you feel self-conscious. Whether...

First-Timer Tips For Your First Lip Filler Appointment

Getting injectable lip fillers can be a quick and effective way to plump up your smile with minimal drama. They’re a cost-effective and safe way to boost the natural shape...

The Most Common Skin Conditions and How to Deal with Them

We often underestimate the importance of our skin, but as the largest organ in our body, and our primary layer of defense, it is constantly affected by many environmental factors...

Beach Babe Basics: Everything You Need to Look Stylish at the Beach

Summer is right around the corner, and this year, we all should make the best of it. Right now, it is not just about looking stylish on the streets, it...

HEALTH

National Action Plan For Endometriosis Is A Game-Changer For Australian Women

Heba Shaheed, The Pelvic Expert, shares her personal story and expert tips for living with endo... First National Action Plan For Endometriosis Is A Game-Changer For Australian Women   The announcement of the first...

Pre - summer pampering: Australian women are detoxifying themselves in the most “kind-Ly” fashion!

In today’s society we are completely exposed to materials, products and chemicals which we unfortunately have no clue if it’s origins, meaning and purpose. Getting back to basics...

Eye Health Dos and Don'ts

Most people take their eyes for granted and spend little to no time thinking about their eye health until they notice something wrong. This leads to plenty of common and...

Non-invasive Cosmetic Treatments

In a world where everyone is chasing perfection, plastic surgeries have become more and more common to the point where it’s odd if you don’t get one during your life...

My Health Yoga

Carrie-Anne Fields of My Health Yoga has taken her Gold Coast yoga teacher training worldwide. She started her health business 20 years ago aged 22 and has grown into a...

Fit Body 101 - Increase Your Fitness Effectiveness

You have to find some space for physical exercise in your weekly schedule in order to live a good life. Embracing this way of life is very beneficial because it...

LIFE STYLE

Add a little colour to your move - and life!

How a little ‘colour’ and planning can take your Move, and make it a more enjoyable one Colour plays a huge role in our lives, it can take us up, or...

6 Simple Rules for Redesigning Your Kitchen

How do you feel about your kitchen? Well, if you feel like your home needs a bit of lifting up, one of the best and most effective places to start...

Dog Flea Allergy

Severe itchy skin disease in dogs causes Flea bite hypersensitivity. The itch is as a result of an allergic reaction to the saliva of the flea which is injected into...

5 Ways to Turn Your Bedroom into a True Zen Retreat

The bedroom should be our little sanctuary where we come to relax after a long day of work. However, in order to be able to unwind all the accumulated stress...

Things to Consider when Deciding on your Wedding Flowers for the Big Day

Choosing the wedding flowers is a complicated process where you have to take into account many elements, from the wedding dress to the wedding theme. You can discover in this...

Renovating tips for your house

There are very few property owners who move into a house where they don’t want to make any changes. Alterations are almost inevitable every time you move-house, but alterations can...

FOOD & DINING

Morning greens: the breakfast skincare regime

It’s safe to assume that most Aussies fail to eat enough greens. Although this was momentarily resolved with the rise and popularity of the green juice movement, the lack of...

Best Hidden Gem Hong Kong Restaurants

You finally find yourself enjoying the endless beauties of China and this fascinating city. In a place with so much variety, all your senses will be wide awake, and your...

JOHNNY DI FRANCESCO NAMED OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR OF EAT STREET MELBOURNE

Johnny Di Francesco, world champion pizzaiolo and owner of Melbourne’s Gradi Group of restaurants, is excited to announce he has been named official ambassador for Eat Street Melbourne 2018. As Ambassador...

The best Mother's Day gift EVER!

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...

Sing for Your Supper at Chargrill Charlie’s

To celebrate the final curtain call of the Barden Bellas, Chargrill Charlie’s is giving you the chance to Sing for your Supper! Show off your best acapella vocals to win...

MAKE IT WINE TIME, ANY TIME

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...