Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Using space satellites to track disease risks

Satellite data can map waterways harboring snails that spread disease, and pinpoint where these snails are likely to intersect with people.

BBC Science Correspondent Jonathan Amos wrote about a session of the recent annual meeting of the AAAS on the use of satellites to track infectious diseases, such as those spread by water snails. Below is an excerpt of his article:

"It is not possible, of course, to see individual snails from orbit, but specialists will have a very good idea of where these creatures prefer to be and the conditions under which they will thrive. And so it is with the watersnails that carry the larvae of the worms that spread schistosomiasis through human populations in Africa.

"In Kenya, scientists are making satellite maps of all the watercourses where these snail carriers are likely to reside, and plotting how they will move across the landscape. This information is then compared with satellite data on where people live on that landscape.

"The combination of the two maps shows the highest risk locations - the places health programs should be concentrated.

"Uriel Kitron from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, conducted the schistosomiasis work in Kenya. 'One of the big challenges that all public health agencies have - and that's true you know in the UK, in the US or in Kenya - is limited resources. If we can help them target the resources in space and time, that is a huge service we can do.'"

Read the whole article at BBC News.

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1 comment:

  1. This is great news! It's amazing all the technological advances we have made and I am excited for the future. Using satellites to track diseases is something that could greatly benefit our lives. Thanks for sharing.