Microscopes are not the only tools available to study disease. A new ESA project employs satellites to predict and help combat epidemic outbreaks, as well as join the hunt for the origin of the deadly Ebola virus.
Ebola haemorrhagic fever kills many people in Central Africa each year. It can cause runaway internal and external bleeding in humans and also apes. What remains unidentified is the jungle-based organism serving as the virus’s host.
To assist search efforts, from next year detailed vegetation maps of Congo and Gabon will be created with satellite images as part of a new ESA Data User Element project called Epidemio, developing Earth Observation (EO) services for epidemiologists.
The Gabon-based International Centre for Medical Research (CIRMF) will combine EO data with field results within a geographical information system (GIS). They hope to spot particular environmental characteristics associated with infected sites where either dead animals are found or local people have acquired Ebola antibodies.
Olivier Arino | alfa
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