Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers convinced satellites are helpful in tracking epidemics

14.03.2006


The amount of data acquired by satellites is increasing at an exponential rate, and researchers are learning about the value of this data in fighting epidemic outbreaks as a result of the ESA’s Epidemio project.

"I was negative about the role satellites could play in addressing epidemics, but now I am positive," Penelope Vernatsou of the Swiss Tropical Institute in Switzerland said. The ESA-funded Epidemio project was developed in January 2004 to illustrate the benefits of remote-sensing data for studying, monitoring and predicting epidemic outbreaks.

By using data which focuses on a region’s landscape – rainfall, vegetation, water bodies, elevation, dust mapping and temperature – researchers are able to pinpoint climatic conditions which are favourable for harbouring various epidemic hosts, indicating where people are at greatest risk.



As the project draws to completion, epidemiologists and data users gathered in Frascati, Italy, at the ‘Earth Observation in Epidemiology Workshop’, on 8-10 March 2006, to report on how Earth observation (EO) has benefited the field of epidemiology.

Ghislain Moussavou of the Gabon-based International Centre for Medical Research (CIRMF) began studying Ebola haemorrhagic fever, which can cause runaway internal and external bleeding in humans and apes, in Congo and Gabon in the hope of spotting particular environmental characteristics associated with infected sites.

Combining ESA Envisat satellite data, under the Epidemio project, on water bodies, forest cover and digital elevation models (DEMs) with field results, Moussavou and his team were able to link the epidemic with dryness and drought.

Moussavou said determining these factors will allow officials to tell the villagers in the area that current conditions for transmission are high, and that they need to take extra precautions. "Because there are no medicines to prevent or cure Ebola, predictions and prevention are necessary."

Dry conditions are also favourable for the spread of meningitis, an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord lining. Epidemics nearly always start in the early part of the dry season when it is hot and dusty. For this reason, ESA has been providing dust maps for high-risk areas to aid in implementing early warning systems.

Christelle Barbey of Silogic, in France, is currently involved in an Epidemio project to provide wind blown dust maps for Africa. Although her final results are still coming in, she was able to detect 100 percent of known dust events, using MeteoSat data, and determine that dust maps do correspond to a user need to contribute to meningitis prevention.

The Epidemio project – funded by the Data User Element of the ESA Earth Observation Envelope Programme – concludes its two-year mission in April 2006, but the groundwork it has laid will aid users in the continuance of their research and allow new projects to be undertaken.

Giuseppe Ottavianelli and Aude de Clercq of the HISTAR Solutions in the Netherlands are currently working on a project, backed by ESA business incubator financing, to confirm the onset of malaria epidemics in Africa, as predicted by remote sensing data.

They have designed a prototype of a sensor located in a box that detects mosquitoes as they fly overhead. The data collected by the sensor is then processed by a program inside the box, which will be placed in hat hutches in high-risk African villages, and indicates the species and numbers of the mosquitoes detected.

Malaria is transferred by the female mosquito of the species Anopheles, so if the sensor detects her presence in high numbers, public officials will be alerted so that preventive measures can be put into place.

Mariangela D’Acunto | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEM5FINVGJE_environment_0.html

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
23.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>