Mobile system facilitates early protection measures against epidemics in remote regions – Wanka: "German research contributes to the solution of global health challenges"
German scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) in Braunschweig and Nigerian researchers are applying the new mobile information system for the first time to combat a monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria. The monkeypox epidemic has spread since September 2017 and, by now, afflicts 128 patients in 14 federal states in Nigeria.
The name of the system, SORMAS, stands for "Surveillance, Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System". It captures and analyses data upon the outbreak of dangerous infectious diseases, recognises potential hazards and manages necessary control measures at an early point in time. In line with the technological status of West African countries, the system is based mainly on mobile tablets or phones. It allows laboratories and hospitals to network with each other and to exchange epidemiological data in real-time.
Johanna Wanka, German Federal Minister of Research, said: "The dramatic experience of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has made it very clear that the national and international emergency planning for epidemics of this type was insufficient. SORMAS shows, in an exemplary manner, how German research contributes to solutions for the global health challenges of our times. We need these rapid-response epidemic management systems in order to be able to combat the spread of hazardous pathogens throughout the world more rapidly and to be able to prevent possible pandemics."
The development of SORMAS is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the German Center for Infection Research. "SORMAS works even in remote places without a mobile phone network. As soon as there is an intermittent network connection, the data are synchronised centrally. This allows the epidemic protection measures to be directed with little time delay," Prof Gérard Krause explains. He is the director of the SORMAS project at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and coordinator of the “Translational Infrastructure Epidemiology” within DZIF.
"The system perfectly meets the urgent pandemic prevention needs in Africa and shows that actions can be initiated rapidly and efficiently through the use of digital solutions in an effort to prevent pandemics from spreading," adds Hans-Joachim Fuchtel, who is the parliamentary state secretary of the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The monkeypox epidemic has spread to ten federal states in Nigeria since September 2017. More than 100 people are now afflicted by this disease. The monkeypox virus is related to the eradicated poxvirus. In earlier epidemics in Africa, approximately 3 % of the afflicted individuals succumbed to the disease. The outbreaks are often triggered by contact with animals – but the virus is also transmitted between humans. Researchers assume that the risk of contracting monkeypox may be on the rise since the smallpox vaccinations were discontinued in the 1970s.
In most African countries, disease monitoring is not set up for early detection of the outbreak of such an uncommon disease. "We are not even sure at this time if we are dealing with a local outbreak of related cases or with a diffuse general increase of the phenomenon," says Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who is the director of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control. Therefore, he asked the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research to use SORMAS to investigate the current situation. Shortly thereafter, a team from Germany travelled to Nigeria to install SORMAS at the Incident Command Centre of the Centre for Disease Control and in the laboratories of the respective federal states.
The current use of SORMAS in Nigeria is very promising: the system improved the data situation significantly within just a few days. For example, SORMAS uses network diagrams to show transmission pathways and automatically displays the geographic distribution on maps. The director of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Dr Ihekweazu, is convinced of the added value provided by the system and hopes to soon be able to use SORMAS nationwide and permanently in Nigeria. "We would like to use SORMAS during the imminent meningitis season, because we urgently need to improve the data situation." In addition, nine other diseases with a high epidemic potential in Nigeria will also be covered, including Lassa fever, measles and cholera.
Prof Dirk Heinz, who is the Scientific Director of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig and Board Member of the German Center for Infection Research underlines: "We are very glad to see our research and development work produce a direct practical benefit so soon. SORMAS will unfold its full potential in terms of prevention once it can be established nationwide in multiple countries."
Gérard Krause explains fighting epidemics by the use of the SORMAS app: https://youtu.be/qD_7nwBmfaQ
The press release, the video with Gérard Krause and a picture are also available on our website: https://www.helmholtz-hzi.de/en/news_events/news/view/article/complete/new_epide...
Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research:
Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany, are engaged in the study of different mechanisms of infection and of the body’s response to infection. Helping to improve the scientific community’s understanding of a given bacterium’s or virus’ pathogenicity is key to developing effective new treatments and vaccines. http://www.helmholtz-hzi.de/en
German Center for Infection Research:
At the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), about 500 scientists from 35 institutions nationwide jointly develop new approaches for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. Their aim is to translate research results into clinical practice rapidly and effectively. With this, the DZIF paves the way for developing new vaccines, diagnostics and drugs in the fight against infections. Further information at: http://www.dzif.de/en
Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research
Press and Communications
Phone: +49 531 6181-1404
Susanne Thiele | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
CubeSats prove their worth for scientific missions
17.04.2019 | American Physical Society
Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications
12.04.2019 | University of California - Berkeley
A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter
A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.
Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...
The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...
Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.
Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...
Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna
A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
09.04.2019 | Event News
18.04.2019 | Life Sciences
18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
18.04.2019 | Life Sciences