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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2003 Dec;1(3):231-7.

Studying the global distribution of infectious diseases using GIS and RS.

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Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.


West Nile virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome and monkeypox are infectious diseases that have recently been introduced into areas far from their region of origin. The greatest risk of new diseases comes from zoonoses--pathogens that circulate among wild animals and are occasionally transferred to humans by intermediate invertebrate hosts or vectors that are sensitive to climatic conditions. Analytical tools that are based on geographical information systems and that can incorporate remotely sensed information about the environment offer the potential to define the limiting conditions for any disease in its native region for which there are at least some distribution data. The direction, intensity or likelihood of its spread to new regions could then be predicted, potentially allowing disease early-warning systems to be developed.

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