Tracking Infectious Diseases

Outbreaks of infectious diseases worldwide can impact U.S. National security through destabilization of other nations. In addition, recent outbreaks of dengue fever and West Nile virus in the U.S. have raised concerns among health officials that globalization and climate change will increase the probability that emerging vector-borne diseases, such as Rift Valley Fever and chikungunya virus, will occur here. The necessary mosquito vectors are already regionally established.

If these diseases do become established here, the consequences to our health, economy, and agricultural system could be significant enough to represent a National-security concern. Consistent, high-spatial-resolution analyses of the distribution of precipitation, temperature, humidity, vegetation greenness, and soil moisture are necessary to monitor for regionally enhanced suitable mosquito habitats and for defining areas of elevated disease risks. STAR and NCAR have developed the modeling software for performing these vector and infectious-disease risk assessments, for both human and agricultural applications.