- November 14, 2008
- Posted by: EARSC
- Categories: EARSC News, Internationalization
With the help of 14 orbiting satellites currently in orbit and the National Aeronautics and Space scientists have been able to observe daily the Earth’s environment to help predict and prevent infectious disease outbreaks around the world, including Ebola, West Nile virus and Rift Valley Fever. The ability of infectious diseases to thrive depends on changes in the Earth’s environment such as the climate, precipitation and vegetation of an area.
According to NASA:
Remote sensing technology not only helps monitor infectious disease outbreaks in highly affected areas, but also provides information about possible plague-carrying vectors — such as insects or rodents — globally and within the U.S. The Four Corners region, which includes Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, is a highly susceptible area for plague and Hanta virus outbreaks, and by understanding the mixture of vegetation, rainfall and slope of the area, scientists can predict the food supply of disease transmitting vectors within the region and the threat they cause to humans. Because plague is also considered a bio agent, NASA surveillance systems enable scientists to decipher if an outbreak was caused by natural circumstances or was an act of bio.
A particular infectious disease being targeted by NASA is malaria, which affects 300-500 million persons worldwide, leaving 40 percent of the world at risk of infection. The Malaria Modeling and Surveillance Project utilizing NASA satellite technology is currently in use by the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences in Thailand and the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit located in Indonesia.
NASA satellite remote sensing technology has been an important tool in the last few years to not only provide scientists with the data needed to respond to epidemic threats quickly, but to also help predict the future of infectious diseases in areas where diseases were never a main concern,” says Mr. Haynes. “Changing environments due to global warming have the ability to change environmental habitats so drastically that diseases such as malaria may become common in areas that have never been previously at-risk.
Posted by Jason McManus. Adapted from research presented at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Meeting in Philadelphia.