Thursday, August 25, 2011

Philippine agencies to map dengue outbreaks

GMA News (Philipppines): Can dengue fever outbreaks be predicted? Science officials in the Philippines think so. With the country in the grips of dengue fever, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the state weather bureau have launched a study that will enable health authorities to predict dengue outbreaks in the future.

Science Undersecretary Graciano Yumul Jr. said there might be a correlation between changes in weather, temperature, rainfall, and the location of the dengue fever surges in the country. Yumul said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the government meteorological agency, is currently conducting a review of its past data on weather variations, rainfall amount, and temperature changes.

These data will be cross-checked with information on dengue outbreaks and other infectious diseases that plagued the country in the past years. Yumul said the above-average rainfall that the country is experiencing due to climate change may increase the number of infectious diseases carried by mosquitoes and worms, creatures that thrive in damp climates and dirty environments.

“We have a dengue project. We are looking at dengue and its possible correlation with temperature and precipitation," he said in a phone interview yesterday. With enough information on, “maybe it will be possible to forecast it," he added. Yumul said there was a Pagasa and Department of Health studies in the past that showed the relationship between tropical diseases and weather. The study is being updated and will include information on malaria, another fatal mosquito-borne infectious disease, and parasitic worm illnesses, which affect children and the urban poor population....

A TEM micrograph showing Dengue virus virions (the cluster of dark dots near the center). From the Centers for Disease Control

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