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Forecasting cholera months in advance by looking at weather data

“Public health officials may be able to forecast cholera outbreaks months in advance by looking at temperature and rainfall data, according to a study. Researchers looked at cholera outbreaks in Zanzibar and found that they correlated with increases in temperature and rainfall. They calculated that a one degree Celsius increase — from 23 to 24 degrees — was followed by a doubling of cholera cases four months later. And a 20 centimetre increase of rainfall resulted in a 1.6 fold increase in cholera cases two months later. Monthly cholera disease surveillance reports between 1997 and 2006 allowed the researchers to map epidemics over time."

Implications from SA Node:

"This would enable public health officials to prepare efficient and cost-effective interventions, such as vaccination programmes, to stem the outbreaks before they happen. But reliable data on cholera incidence is lacking in some developing countries, making it impossible to develop similar forecasting models. The study also says that with global warming, there is possibility of increased cholera incidence in many resource-poor regions of the world.”

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Sources:

South Africa Node of the Millenium Project July 2011 pg. 10
http://newsletters.clearsignals.org/SouthernAfricaHorizonScan_July2011.pdf#page=10

http://www.scidev.net/en/news/weather- data-may-predict-cholera-outbreaks-1.html