Scientists use remote satellite imaging to predict outbreaks of infectious disease

Sep 02, 2008

Scientists in the USA have established a way to predict outbreaks of cholera, making it easier to control. This finding could provide a model to predict and potentially control outbreaks of other important infectious diseases.

Cholera is a serious, ancient water-borne infectious disease, which is an unpredictable and severe problem for developing countries.

The bacterium that causes cholera, Vibrio cholerae, has a known association with a crustacean (called a copepod) which lives on zooplankton, a type of plankton. Cholera outbreaks have been linked with environmental factors, including sea surface temperature, ocean height, and biomass (this is estimated by measuring chlorophyll produced by plankton). Professor Rita R. Colwell and her team at the University of Maryland, College Park, have used remote satellite imaging to track this climatologically important information and the data collected now can be used to predict outbreaks of cholera before they occur.

Cholera epidemics have been episodic, so the ability to predict them could be one further step towards controlling this serious, water-borne disease by providing rapid response public health measures. The climate factors shown to be associated with cholera also play a role in many other infectious diseases. So this development offers a useful model for understanding human health effects related to climate change.

"We are now beginning to understand infectious disease is a moving target," said Colwell. "As the climate shifts, any disease with an environmental stage or vector is going to be affected." Colwell will call for an integrated approach of global scientific paradigms to track and tackle infectious disease: "We must protect this blue planet" she said "it's the only one we've got".

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Salmonella and Campylobacter show significant levels of resistance to common antimicrobials in humans and animals

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Home walking program improves erectile function after MI

22 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For men with recent acute myocardial infarction, a home-based walking program is associated with a reduction in reported erectile dysfunction (ED), according to a study published in the March ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.