Cholera remains one of the most prevalent water-related infections in many tropical regions of the world, specifically coastal areas of South Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We now know how to treat cholera patients, and hence mortality for cholera has considerably decreased in several parts of the globe.
Despite this, there are still outbreaks, such as in Haiti in 2010. Undoubtedly, the first line of defense against cholera occurrence remains a robust water and sanitation infrastructure. However, the regions with inadequate facilitates which lie close to coastal waters, is where the disease causing cholera bacteria thrives. It is influenced by a variety of hydro climatic processes, which can be quantified, and a proxy prediction system can be developed for the timing of bacterial growth during a year. The critical conjecture is the identification of such processes and links to cholera data so that a warning system can be developed months in advance, thus providing the necessary intervention and mitigation strategies.
A recent study in Remote Sensing Letters emphasizes and explores the potential of satellite remote sensing data on the occurrence of cholera in regions where the disease is seasonally endemic and reliable data is not available. Satellite remote sensing can provide an indirect measure of coastal water conditions conducive for cholera dynamics. It cannot alone provide a direct connection to V. cholerae abundance, but can help determine timing and location of the presence of biological and organic matter in coastal waters that contribute to growth and distribution of the causative agent of cholera. Our study shows that prediction of cholera with reasonable accuracy, can be achieved at least two month in advance, in the endemic coastal regions.
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More information: Jutla, A. et al. A water marker monitored by satellites to predict seasonal endemic cholera, Remote Sensing Letters
Volume 4, Issue 8, 2013. www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/2150704X.2013.802097