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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2004 Nov;71(5):664-74.

Trigger events: enviroclimatic coupling of Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreaks.

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  • 1Biospheric Sciences Branch, Laboratory for Terrestrial Physics, National Aeronautics and Space Administration-Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA.


We use spatially continuous satellite data as a correlate of precipitation within tropical Africa and show that the majority of documented Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreaks were closely associated with sharply drier conditions at the end of the rainy season. We propose that these trigger events may enhance transmission of Ebola virus from its cryptic reservoir to humans. These findings suggest specific directions to help understand the sylvatic cycle of the virus and may provide early warning tools to detect possible future outbreaks of this enigmatic disease.

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