With the ability to map where diseases originate and spread, researchers are able to better predict where they will travel next to provide local governments with the knowledge and awareness for better decision-making.

Researchers from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia have discovered global trends occurring in animal-borne (zoonotic) diseases. The Science Explorer reports the team of researchers created world maps using data from the Global Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Network and mammal distribution maps from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to discover patterns in outbreaks carried by land mammals. Published in the “Trends in Parasitology” journal, the researchers discovered rodent hosts were more prominent in Europe and Russia, while bat hosts were concentrated in Central America and the majority of primate hosts reside along Africa’s equator.

A team with the University College London created a map to predict how Lassa fever, a rat-borne virus originating from West Africa, will spread by 2070. According to a Wired article, the model uses climate change, population growth, and land use to predict how animal-originating diseases spread. The researchers hope their model will help prevent disease and help decision-makers assess the impact or change policy. The study is published in “Methods in Ecology and Evolution” and available online.

The Weekly Times reports the Australian sheep farming industry will get a new technology to help predict the risk of disease and subsequent death in sheep populations. Australia’s Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Center and the Australia Sheep Cooperative Research Centre’s project will use a variety of data sources to predict feed availability and risks such as parasites and extreme weather events. The web/smartphone-based app will use data from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, genetic modeling information, and satellite imagery to make those predictions. The system is expected to be implemented by early 2017.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new map of the likelihood of U.S. residents contracting the mosquito-borne Zika virus, reports The Weather Channel. The map collects data from 1995 through March 2016 and color-codes counties that have seen the presence of the Aedes species mosquito. Counties in white have not reported sightings of the mosquito, while those counties in yellow, orange, and red have. The map reveals states along the southern and eastern coasts are more susceptible to the virus.

Photo Credit: Drew Kramer

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Posted by Lindsay Tilton Mitchell

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