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Watching water from space could aid disease prevention in China
Date:12/18/2008

ki said. The lake's surface area ranges from about 386 square miles during dry seasons to more than four times that -- 1,700 square miles -- during rainy periods. Adult snails number in the billions, and are about the size of a pinky fingertip.

Water levels and vegetation in Poyang Lake are expected to change after the Three Gorges Dam project is completed upstream, but whether these changes will create better or worse conditions for the snails remains unknown, Ibaraki said. The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River is the largest hydro-electric project in the world, intended to combine the generation of clean power with downstream flood control, and enable shipping in China's interior.

Those most in danger of schistosomiasis infection in the Poyang Lake region tend to be fishermen, Ibaraki said. The lake is a major source for the fish industry in the area, which is rural and very poor. In addition, a high infection rate of schistosomiasis is reported in the region.

"There are huge signs there that tell people not to go into the lake. People know about the dangers of infection, but they have to touch the water to some extent. It's part of their lifestyle," Ibaraki said.

The researchers plan to share the maps and numerical analyses of snail habitat trends with public health officials in China. They also hope to eventually apply the data-fusion techniques to other areas of the world affected by schistosomiasis. The disease is also a public health problem in southern and sub-Saharan Africa, parts of South America, several Caribbean counties, and portions of the Middle East and Southeast Asia.


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Contact: Motomu Ibaraki
ibaraki.1@osu.edu
614-292-7528
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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