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: West Africa's Ebola outbreak prompts changes in I.Coast cuisine

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Climate change as a matter of public health

Apr 08, 2014

For a long time people perceived climate change as an environmental issue–the concern of environmentalists, the concern of a few. It was reframed as a justice issue at the turn of the 21st century, when ...

Climate conditions help forecast meningitis outbreaks

Mar 18, 2014

Determining the role of climate in the spread of certain diseases can assist health officials in "forecasting" epidemics. New research on meningitis incidence in sub-Saharan Africa pinpoints wind and dust ...

Guarding the country against foreign animal diseases

Oct 25, 2013

A deadly animal virus is on the loose, treading through Russia and knocking on the doors of Eastern Europe and Asia. After its introduction into the Republic of Georgia and the Caucasus region in 2007 and ...

Recommended for you

Two expats die of MERS in Saudi commercial hub

14 hours ago

Two foreigners died of MERS in the Saudi city of Jeddah, the health ministry said Saturday, as fears rise over the spreading respiratory virus in the kingdom's commercial hub.

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

14 hours ago

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

Apr 19, 2014

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.