Home Health Satellite aid in the prediction of hantavirus risk

Satellite aid in the prediction of hantavirus risk

Salt Lake City, US: Researchers from University of Utah are using satellite images to predict the risk of deadly hantavirus outbreaks throughout the world. According to this satellite-based study, mice populations increase substantially during the year after a particularly wet season, also resulting in an increase of hantavirus infections, of which 42 percent are deadly.

The study indicates people are at greatest risk of catching hantavirus a little over a year after peaks in plant growth, and it pinpoints the best methods for measuring those peaks. The outcome provides a way for researchers to create maps showing where and when outbreaks are likely to occur.

“The satellite measures the greenness of the earth, and we found that greenness predicts deer mouse population density,” said U. biology professor Denise Dearing, who co-authored the study.

While humans contract hantavirus from inhaling dust or particles containing mouse urine or feces, scientists believe the technology could pinpoint where that dust may be concentrated as well as help health officials fight other rodent-borne diseases such as rat-bite fever, Lyme disease, bubonic plague, Lassa fever, salmonella infection and various hemorrhagic fevers.

Hantavirus was discovered in 1993 after several young and otherwise healthy individuals in the Four Corners area of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona died of a mysterious respiratory illness. Had the mice tracking data been available then, researchers would have known to alert humans of the mouse habitats and increased potential of contracting the disease.

Source: www.deseretnews.com