Issue #1(27) 2021 Environment

Predicting dengue fever outbreaks from space

Gina Tsarouchi HR Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK

Dengue fever is the fastest spreading mosquito-borne viral disease in the world today. Now, a pioneering satellite-based project, the Dengue MOdel forecasting Satellite-based System (D-MOSS), is bringing hope to dengue-affected nations. D-MOSS has proved successful in Vietnam and is now being made available to Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Using Earth observation data together with seasonal climate forecasts, D-MOSS is able to predict the likelihood of future dengue epidemics up to six months in advance.

The unprecedented surge in dengue epidemics across the globe in recent years prompted the World Health Organization (WHO), at the start of 2019, to include the virus in its list of the world’s top 10 public health threats (see Figure 1). Cases in Vietnam have increased by over 100 percent since the year 2000, mainly due to the failure to maintain adequate control of the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito that spreads dengue fever. Since mosquito survival and biting behaviour is affected by environmental conditions, Earth observations (EO) and forecasts of climatic variables can be used to predict changes in dengue risk but, until the D-MOSS project, Vietnam had no system in place to forecast the probability of dengue outbreaks in advance.

D-MOSS is funded by the UK Space Agency’s (UKSA) International Partnership Programme and the first system implementation took place in Vietnam in June 2019. The forecasts of dengue outbreaks provided by D-MOSS have greatly assisted the Vietnamese government to put cost-effective early actions in place at community, district and national level, depending on the forecast lead time.

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