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TRIGGER EVENTS: ENVIROCLIMATIC COUPLING OF EBOLA HEMORRHAGIC FEVER OUTBREAKS

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  • 1 Biospheric Sciences Branch, Laboratory for Terrestrial Physics, National Aeronautics and Space Administration-Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland; Science Systems & Applications, Inc., Lanham, Maryland; Global Alert and Response Team, Department of Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Response, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland; U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Disease, Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland

We use spatially continuous satellite data as a correlate of precipitation within tropical Africa and show that the majority of documented Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreaks were closely associated with sharply drier conditions at the end of the rainy season. We propose that these trigger events may enhance transmission of Ebola virus from its cryptic reservoir to humans. These findings suggest specific directions to help understand the sylvatic cycle of the virus and may provide early warning tools to detect possible future outbreaks of this enigmatic disease.

Author Notes

Reprint requests: Jorge E. Pinzon, Laboratory for Terrestrial Physics, Code 923, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, Telephone: 301-614-6685, Fax: 301-614-6015, E-mail: pinzon@negev.gsfc.nasa.gov.
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