Lights that shine brighter than the city can be used to predict disease outbreaks and prevent spread of disease. Given the population density is an important factor in the spread of the disease, researchers have found a way to predict through satellite images from space.
The researchers looked at satellite photos of cities in Africa are often attacked by measles outbreaks. Niger is an example of a country where many people live in rural areas during planting season and move to urban areas in the dry season.
The researchers think that if they can determine an increase in the population using the brightness of homes and businesses as a guide, they can determine the center of the spread of measles outbreaks.
Measles is transmitted through coughing, sneezing, or touching and kills about 600,000 children in the world each year. The death rate from this disease is very high in the area of ??Niger, which is about 3,000 children per year.
For a close look at how the population changes over time, researchers analyzed satellite images taken by the Operational Linescan System from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program have the U.S. government.
The images are broken down into parts which consist of 1 square kilometer (0.4 square miles). The researchers use to estimate the brightness of the local population and then compare it with previous measles epidemics detailed notes. The most accurate record of the outbreak there in the cities of Niamey, Maradi and Zinder.
“Photo Naimey town from time to time shows there are some parts of the city’s still dark when other parts are bright, when it was dry season. The same pattern was found when the measles infections. These instructions are useful for determining which areas will be vaccinated,” said researchers, Nita Bharti from Princeton University.
The researchers saw that the environmental population varies seasonally, which rose during the dry season and low when the wet season. When the population is also the culminating moments of the worst outbreaks of measles.
These seasonal changes may occur due to the way the population survive. The economy is very dependent on the agricultural population, about 90 percent of existing jobs related to agriculture. During the rainy season, residents in areas with lower population engaged in agricultural activities, and in the dry season they move to urban areas to seek work.
The study, published in the journal Science also looked at the northern town of Agadez is located in the desert and its economy was based on uranium mining is done without knowing the season.
The city is showing the lowest brightness fluctuations. Because researchers only include measles epidemic stricken areas, areas not plagued not included in the analysis of research.
Can find out when certain areas are in danger of outbreaks of the most dangerous, with the technology can help the vaccination teams are better prepared and vigilant. If the medical team could reach the stricken areas with outbreaks quickly enough, they can stop the epidemic before it reaches critical mass.
“We can kind of know the risk of outbreaks is based on the brightness of the region. The region looks bright first need to receive the initial vaccination. This approach can be applied to any disease that is driven by changes in population density,” said Bharti seeprti LiveScience reported Friday (9 / 12 / 2011).
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