Student Research Seeks to Predict Dengue Fever Outbreaks

New Mexico Consortium (NMC) and Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) student Jessica Conrad attended the ICMA VI: 6th International Conference on Mathematical Modeling and Analysis of Populations in Biological Systems where she gave a presentation titled, “Using Satellite Imagery and Internet Data for Dengue Surveillance in Brazil”. The conference took place October 20 – 22, 2017 at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.

Dengue fever is important to study due to cases of the disease increasing in Latin America in the last 15 years. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine commercially available yet for dengue fever outside of Mexico, and there are not specific medications people can take to treat dengue. The most important thing people can do is to try to prevent the disease from breaking out in the first place, and control it when it does break out.

Conrad’s research includes a predictive risk analysis to forecast dengue dynamics in Brazil, and explore whether remote sensing data can improve disease forecasting. As this is a mosquito-borne disease, her research uses predictive data streams such as previous cases, weather, precipitation, vegetation, land use, and remote sensing data.

Successful forecasting of dengue fever in Brazil can lead to more successful preemptive vector control programs. Conrad’s research is contributing to the successful prediction of where dengue may break out which will help to reduce dengue cases each year.
Conrad is an NSF SEES Fellow and is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Conrad's collaborators include Carrie Manore, Nick Generous, Sara Del Valle, Geoffrey Fairchild, Amanda Ziemann, Nidhi Parikh (LANL) and Amir Siraj (Notre Dame) as well as Descartes Labs.

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