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Historical outbreaks of Rift Valley fever (RVF) since the early 1950s have been associated with cyclical patterns of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, which results in elevated and widespread rainfall over the RVF endemic areas of Africa. Using satellite measurements of global and regional elevated sea surface temperatures, elevated rainfall, and satellite derived-normalized difference vegetation index data, we predicted with lead times of 2–4 months areas where outbreaks of RVF in humans and animals were expected and occurred in the Horn of Africa, Sudan, and Southern Africa at different time periods from September 2006 to March 2008. Predictions were confirmed by entomological field investigations of virus activity and by reported cases of RVF in human and livestock populations. This represents the first series of prospective predictions of RVF outbreaks and provides a baseline for improved early warning, control, response planning, and mitigation into the future.
Financial support: The participation of AA, KJL, JS, SCB, EP and CJT on this project is in part supported by funding from the Department of Defense Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System, the United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service, the Deployed War-Fighter Protection Research Program Funded by the United States Department of Defense, through the Armed Forces Pest Management Board, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration grant # NNH08CD31C/ROSES 2007.
Authors' addresses: Assaf Anyamba, Jennifer Small, Edwin Pak, and Compton J. Tucker, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Biospheric Sciences Branch, Greenbelt, MD, E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com. Kenneth J. Linthicum and Seth C. Britch, USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, FL, E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Stephane de La Rocque, EMPRES/Animal Production and Health Division (AGAH) FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome, Italy, E-mail: Stephane.DeLaRocque@fao.org. Pierre Formenty, Global Alert and Response Department (HSE/GAR) World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Allen W. Hightower and Robert F. Breiman, Kenya Medical Research Unit (KEMRI)-CDC, Nairobi, E-mails: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Jean-Paul Chretien, Division of Preventive Medicine, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, MD, E-mail: email@example.com. David Schnabel, United States Army Medical Research Unit-Kenya, E-mail: DSchnabel@wrp-nbo.org. Rosemary Sang, Arbovirology/VHF Laboratory, Centre for Virus Research Kenya Medical Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya, E-mail: RSang@kemri.org. Karl Haagsma, 757th Airlift Squadron, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Vienna, Ohio, E-mail: Karl.Haagsma@youngstown.af.mil. Mark Latham, Manatee County Mosquito Control, Palmetto, FL, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Henry B. Lewandowski, Chatham County Mosquito Control, Savannah, GA, E-mail: email@example.com. Salih Osman Magdi, Federal Ministry of Health, Epidemiology Department, Khartoum, Sudan, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mohamed Ally Mohamed, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, E-mail: email@example.com. Patrick M. Nguku, Division of Communicable Disease Control, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jean-Marc Reynes, Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, Antananarivo, Madagascar, E-mail: email@example.com. Robert Swanepoel, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Sandringham, South Africa, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.