Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika viruses continue to expand dramatically worldwide in large part due to failed efforts to control the principal mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti. The World Health Organization estimates that these diseases infect 50-100 million people each year, with over 3 billion at risk. Indeed, rates of infection are doubling every year in many regions. It is recognized today that the most sustainable approach to try to curb this expansion is to develop integrated vector control strategies that incorporate community­ based interventions. 

The Social Apps Lab has developed DengueChat ( as an interactive web and mobile platform that combines mobile technology, evidence collection, reporting, analysis, pedagogic information, and game concepts to motivate communities to participate in dengue vector control without using chemicals. 

DengueChat considers that the residents of communities affected by arbovirus diseases are the best sources of information about active and potential mosquito breeding sites and are therefore potentially the best agents for their elimination. The challenge is to motivate them to act.

DengueChat has two primary parts: DengueChat Community and DengueChat Data. The first engages communities to educate and motivate residents in mosquito vector control. The second is a platform for organizers and researchers to analyze and represent the data that communities collect.  

Figure 1. DengueChat Data User Interface
Figure 1. DengueChat Data User Interface

During an 18-month pilot study in Managua, Nicaragua, DengueChat was found to reduce the mosquito vector for Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika by 90% in five intervention neighborhoods while it increased by over 400% in five control neighborhoods. DengueChat was deployed through community youth brigades that performed weekly house-to-house visits to engage residents in dialogue on the risks and prevention of active and potential mosquito breeding sites. They demonstrated the process of inspecting water containers–such as barrels and tires–for the presence of immature forms of Aedes aegypti and how to remove them. The residents assumed responsibility for performing these inspections, which were recorded in DengueChat Data during the weekly visits, capturing information on both the house and neighborhood levels. Brigade members utilized DengueChat Community to engage in social conversations about Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya; describe their brigade activities; circulate relevant information in their neighborhoods; and recruit new participants. DengueChat brigade members were responsible for specific houses, earning points for each visit and the actions taken by residents. They earn additional points when homes remained free of breeding sites for two consecutive months, achieving “Green House” status.

Figure 2. DengueChat Community User Interface.
Figure 2. DengueChat Community User Interface.

During the pilot study, almost 300 brigade members inspected 785 houses, reaching more than 4,000 residents. They conducted a total of 7,300 weekly visits, monitoring and managing 3,200 barrels of water, hundreds of tires, and thousands of other containers. The pilot will expand in 2017 in Nicaragua to reach 50,000 residents.

For more information and to support DengueChat, please visit

Principal Investigator:  James Holston, Professor, Anthropology, UC Berkeley

Co-Investigator: Josefina Coloma, Research Scientist, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley

Lead Developer: Dmitri Skjorshammer