- por breakdengue

Using environmental factors to predict dengue outbreaks

Dengue flourishes primarily in poor communities where resources are limited. However, if outbreaks are identified early, the resources that are available can be used to maximum effect.
A project by the California-based Brazil Health and Air Quality Team aims to use readily available environmental data to predict the potential for outbreaks, giving those affected a head start in deploying resources to control the vector (mosquitoes).
The ultimate goal of the project is to map the risk of dengue outbreaks, but to do that they first needed to understand the relationship between environmental factors such as temperature and humidity, and the risk of outbreaks.
The team began by building a model of the epidemic potential of dengue across urban areas of Brazil between 2003 and 2012. Epidemic potential is defined as “The capacity of a disease to remain in a population as a function of vector lifestyle and activity, mortality and the required incubation period of the disease.”
Using historical data on humidity and temperature, they found a correlation between outbreaks, low temperatures, and high humidity: outbreaks increase significantly two to three months after a period of lower than average temperature and one to two months after a period of higher than average humidity.
The team will be using this insight to map the risk of dengue outbreaks, but first they are looking to further understand the correlation and also analyze the role that other environmental factors can play, such as surface hydrology and vegetation.
Scientists hope that by pulling together data from several sources and taking a smarter approach to dengue control, they can keep us one step ahead of the disease.