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Remotely sensed vegetation measurements for the last 30 years combined with other climate data sets such as rainfall and sea surface temperatures have come to play an important role in the study of the ecology of arthropod-borne diseases. We show that epidemics and epizootics of previously unpredictable Rift Valley fever (RVF) are directly influenced by large-scale flooding associated with the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This flooding affects the ecology of disease transmitting arthropod vectors through vegetation development and other bioclimatic factors. This information is now utilized to monitor, model, and map areas of potential RVF outbreaks and is used as an early warning system for risk reduction of outbreaks to human and animal health, trade, and associated economic impacts. The continuation of such satellite measurements is critical to anticipating, preventing, and managing disease epidemics and epizootics and other climate-related disasters.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2012