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Researchers develop the first climate-based model to predict Dengue fever outbreaks
Date:6/5/2009

CORAL GABLES, FL (June 5, 2009)--Dengue Fever (DF) and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) are the most important vector-borne viral diseases in the World. Around 50-100 million cases appear each year putting 2.5 billion people at risk of suffering this debilitating and sometimes fatal disease. Dengue Fever is prevalent in the Tropics. For that reason, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Miami (UM) and the University of Costa Rica have used global climatological data and vegetation indices from Costa Rica, to predict Dengue outbreaks in the region.

The new model can predict Dengue Fever epidemics with 83% accuracy, up to 40 weeks in advance of an outbreak and provide information on the magnitude of future epidemics. The model can be expanded to include the broader region of Latin America and the Caribbean, where incidence and spread of the disease has increased dramatically over the past 25 years.

An early warning system to prevent and mitigate the spread of the disease can potentially be developed using this model, explained Douglas O. Fuller, associate professor and chair of the department of Geography and Regional Studies in the UM College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator of this project.

"Such a tool will provide sufficient time for public health authorities to mobilize resources to step up vector control measures, alert at-risk populations to impending conditions and help health professionals plan for increased case loads," Fuller said.

Vector-born diseases, such DF and DHF, are ones in which the disease is transmitted from an infected individual to another by a biological agent. In the case of Dengue, one of four closely related Dengue viruses is transmitted to humans by the Aedes aegypti or more rarely the Aedes albopictus mosquito, sometimes with other animals serving as intermediary hosts. Most of the world's population infected by Dengue (also known as "breakbone fever
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Contact: Marie Guma-Diaz@umiami.edu
m.gumadiaz@umiami.edu
305-284-1601
University of Miami
Source:Eurekalert  

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