Name: Milda Žygutienė
Background: Biologist, PhD in biomedical science
Title: Medical entomologist, Associated Editor of EpiNorth Journal
Organization: Centre for Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control, Lithuania
Specialization: Vectors and vector-borne diseases
Hobbies: Needlework, gardening
What are your responsibilities at the Centre for Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control?
Coordination of entomological surveillance in the country, training of local specialists, and developing guidelines. I participate in editing the national bulletin ”Epidemiologijos žinios” and I am responsible for the Lithuanian participation in the Integrated project Emerging Diseases in a Changing European Environment (EDEN) funded by the European Commission.
What motivated you to devote yourself to infectious disease epidemiology?
Medical entomology is an uncommon speciality but very interesting and comprehensive. It brings together diseases, pathogens and vectors. Understanding processes in nature and how these processes influence the epidemiology of vector-borne diseases is very important.
Which of your professional achievements brings you the most satisfaction?
A lot of aspects give me satisfaction in my professional life. One of them is participating in different research projects related to tick-borne pathogens. Studying the diversity of these pathogens circulating in our country brings me great pleasure.
What was your most difficult professional moment?
It was during the 1990s when the biting activity of bloodsucking black flies (Simuliidae) increased and had become a serious problem in South Lithuania. At that time we had no experience, no idea how to regulate the population of this insect, and there was no literature addressing this subject. In the course of two years methodology was developed and the problem was solved.
What do you think are the most important achievements in infectious disease epidemiology so far?
The availability of vaccines and the rapid communication between countries.
How did you start collaborating in the EpiNorth project?
Since 2004 I participated in the EpiTrain courses in infectious disease epidemiology organized by the project. In 2006 I was nominated to be the Lithuanian representative on EpiNorth’s Editorial Board and last year I became Associate Editor.
What do you find the most interesting aspect of the EpiNorth project?
The unique possibility to contact and exchange experiences with colleagues from nearby and more distant countries.
What do you consider the most important achievement of the EpiNorth project?
The EpiNorth Journal is important for non-English speaking specialists and, at the same time, helps to improve language skills. The EpiTrain courses are very valuable for specialists and provide an opportunity for some young researchers to prepare for EPIET-fellowship.
What is your favourite book and why?
I prefer a writer Paulo Coelho, not a single book. Reading his books sometimes makes my life “easier”.
Aside from your professional career, what is your greatest ambition in life?
This ambition is related to my family. I hope to become a grandmother someday.
What would be your wishes for the younger colleagues in the field of epidemiology?
We should remember that nature changes especially nowadays. Warm climate influences the life of small animals. There are examples when people react to changes in environment too late. Humanity is prudent but controlling natural processes is very complicated. So, we need to be alert.