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Hurricanes are devastating for the populations they hit, not only because of the damage caused by winds but also because of the increased risk of diseases after the storm passes. To help people affected by these storms, researchers used data from NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite to make predictions about cholera outbreaks.
Cholera, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a bacterial disease that spreads through contaminated water or food. Symptoms of cholera can include nausea, vomiting, severe diarrhea, dehydration and even death if left untreated. There were more than 130,000 reported cases of cholera worldwide in 2016, according to the World Health Organization, but estimates of the true number of cholera cases are much higher – between 1.4 million to 4 million cases annually.
NASA - Cholera - Outbreaks - Types - Endemic
According to NASA, cholera outbreaks come in two types: endemic (or seasonal), or an epidemic that happens suddenly. If the use of drinking water and its availability change after a natural disaster, human behavior will also change as people seek out water. But it is difficult to predict the risk of cholera because little information is available on pathogen abundance in local water systems as well as on larger trends in weather and climate.
Researchers focused on Haiti, which suffered a massive cholera outbreak in 2010 after a difficult year of natural disasters. A devastating earthquake and an aftershock hit Haiti in January 2010, followed by the hottest summer in generations. A cholera outbreak occurred in October of the same year, just weeks before Hurricane Tomas grazed the island and unleashed heavy rains.
Data - Summer - Years - Hurricane - Island
"The data that we were able to pull together showed that in 2010 it was the hottest summer in 50 years. And then, as if that weren't enough, there was a hurricane that skirted the island, but it dumped the heaviest rainfall in 50 years," added...
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