Using satellite images to measure night-time light levels streaming from West African cities could prove to be an important new tool in fighting the spread of measles, according to a new study published in the December 9 issue of the journal Science.
The research team analysed night-time satellite images of three cities in Niger taken between 2000 and 2004, and found that seasonal population surges correlated strongly with local measles epidemic outbreaks recorded for the same period. Although the disease has been largely eradicated in the US through long-standing immunization programs, thousands annually in West Africa are killed.
The study claims that the method could be used to control other diseases such as meningitis that spread quickly through dense populations.
Sachiye Day, VERTICES intern. firstname.lastname@example.org