Now, predict the next cholera outbreak from space

April 2nd, 2008 - 11:18 am ICT by admin  

London, April 2 (IANS) Cholera epidemics can be predicted from space - using satellite sensors, a new study confidently contends. And this, say researchers, paves the way for pre-emptive action in countries that suffer epidemics.

This is how it works: Cholera Vibrio inhabits zooplankton and can be found in bays, estuaries and rivers in temperate and tropical regions.

Now, scientists have established a relationship between sea surface temperature, sea surface height and cholera epidemics, according to Rita Colwell of the University of Maryland, who led the study.

Colwell presented her findings Wednesday at the Society for General Microbiology in Edinburgh.

“We can predict cholera epidemics by monitoring these factors using satellite sensors,” said Colwell, whose work is leading towards a predictive model that will provide forecasting of climatic conditions associated with specific epidemics.

“A pre-emptive medicine may be possible for countries of the world suffering cholera epidemics,” she said.

“The issues are international and require a global scientific enterprise. The ultimate objective is a holistic understanding of the consequences of global warming and development of policies to address them.”

Cholera has afflicted humankind for centuries and remains a serious problem for the developing world.

“If the global effects of climate change are to be understood fully, we need to think about the human health aspect,” she said.

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