A report from IRIN describes the work of scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Agency (NASA) who are developing remote sensing methods to monitor the environmental conditions that cause Rift Valley Fever (RVF). This viral disease, spread by mosquitoes, is a serious problem in cattle in the Horn of Africa but is also emerging as a threat to humans. Outbreaks in recent years have claimed several thousand lives.
NASA hopes to use remote sensing, “a technique that uses recorded or real-time wireless sensing devices to collect information on an object or phenomenon,” to determine the environmental conditions that lead to outbreaks. Details of the project were presented at a conference held in Cape Town - the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, Earth Observation - Origins to Application.
The IRIN report says also that the potential of remote sensing in the control of other infections is being investigated by the Swiss Tropical Institute and a German company, Jenoptik. According to Kathrin Weise, a Jenoptik software engineer: “The land cover classification and statistical methods … will be used in our projects to map risk areas and environmental conditions for an outbreak of epidemics of different vector-borne diseases like malaria, meningitis, and Buruli ulcer disease”.