92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012: 9:15 AM
Can You Really See Bacteria From Space?
Room 333 (New Orleans Convention Center )
D. Jay Grimes, University of Southern Mississippi, Ocean Springs, MS

Several species of pathogenic bacteria occur naturally in coastal waters worldwide and some of these microbes can cause disease outbreaks in humans at risk. The pathogenic Vibrios are especially problematic and their incidence in human disease appears to be on the increase. While several Vibrios can cause human disease, the major causative agents in the U.S. are Vibrio parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus. Worldwide, the major Vibrio disease agent is V. cholerae which causes cholera. In recent years, remotely sensed (RS) data, primarily data collected by satellites, have been used to predict – both “nowcast” and forecast – the presence of many different microbes including Vibrios in the ocean. This talk will focus on the utility of RS information to public health practitioners and managers in preventing human disease caused by the Vibrios and it will discuss future directions.

Using satellite images and a new algorithm, health officials can better track bacteria that can cause seafood-related illness in people who eat raw or undercooked oysters. The "Vibrio Remote Sensing Report" a 'nowcast' in the Gulf of Mexico used to determine the abundance and distribution of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a naturally occurring bacterium known to be one of the leading causes of seafood illness in the U.S. Given the right conditions, Vibrio densities can reach a level high enough to cause gastro-intestinal illness in people at risk who are exposed via consumption of raw or undercooked oysters. This information, shown in maps, is available to the public and other officials and can eventually be used to inform shellfish handling and harvesting procedures. For more information visit: http://www.eol.ucar.edu/projects/ohhi/vibrio/.

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