Friday, 12 September 2003

Rome (Fides Service) – Satellites are being harnessed to help scientific research in the fight against the Ebola virus. “Epidemio” project launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) includes the use of satellites to forecast and help prevent new outbursts of the virus. Ebola, a haemorrhaging fever, kills a high number of people in Central Africa every year. It can cause spontaneous haemorrhage internal and external in human beings and the organism which hosts the virus which lives in the jungle is still unknown. This is why next year, “to support research efforts, the ESA says, it will draw detailed maps of the vegetation in Congo and Gabon through satellite pictures in order to identify the environmental and ecological ambient in which it hides”. “We hope aggiunge ESA says, to identify particular environmental characteristics associated with infected sites in which local deaths of persons and animals have been discovered who have developed Ebola anti-bodies”. Through comparison of sites confirmed to be infected, satellites will help identify other suspect sites. But the sue of these modern means will be crucail not only in the struggle against Ebola. In fact a new front to fight malaria is being opened. ESA says satellite mapping will help forecast epidemics of malaria diffused by mosquitoes which afflicts, 300 million people in the world and killed 1.5 million every year. High humidity and heavy rainfall are often warnings of malaria since they cause mosquito eggs to open more quickly and the consequent increase in insects. With this in mind it is opportune to take all the principle measures to avoid the propagation of these insects. The satellite pictures will be made available to the Public Health Mapping Programme of the World Health Organisation WHO. (AP) (12/9/2003 Fides Service; lines:28 words:335)