[SaneVax: Researchers are attempting to work on disease predictions tied to weather forecasts. Will these forecasts be accurate? How often is your local weather forecast accurate?
Another obvious problem with attempts to forecast disease outbreaks based on the weather is there are multiple factors including sanitation, nutritional habits, living conditions, etc… which affect whether or not you will contract any particular disease circulating in your location. Any prediction based solely on weather conditions would be questionable at best.]
Flu? Malaria? Disease forecasters look to the sky
By Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Only a 10 percent chance of showers today, but a 70 percent chance of flu next month.
That’s the kind of forecasting health scientists are trying to move toward, as they increasingly include weather data in their attempts to predict disease outbreaks.
In one recent study, two scientists reported they could predict – more than seven weeks in advance – when flu season was going to peak in New York City. Theirs was just the latest in a growing wave of computer models that factor in rainfall, temperature or other weather conditions to forecast disease.
Health officials are excited by this kind of work and the idea that it could be used to fine-tune vaccination campaigns or other disease prevention efforts.
At the same time, experts note that outbreaks are influenced as much, or more, by human behavior and other factors as by the weather. Some argue weather-based outbreak predictions still have a long way to go. And when government health officials warned in early December that flu season seemed to be off to an early start, they said there was no evidence it was driven by the weather.
This disease-forecasting concept is not new: Scientists have been working on mathematical models to predict outbreaks for decades and have long factored in the weather. They have known, for example, that temperature and rainfall affect the breeding of mosquitoes that carry malaria, West Nile virus and other dangerous diseases.
Recent improvements in weather-tracking have helped, including satellite technology and more sophisticated computer data processing.
Read the entire article here.