When people get ill, weather is often blamed, and although the common cold is not a direct result from being cold, there's some merit to the allegations. However, the link is much more scientific than most people are aware of. Moreover, it’s far more exciting than one would expect.
Weather directs both human behavior and the ability of insects and microorganisms to survive and multiply. And although human behavior is highly seasonal and predictable to that effect, when combined with climatological conditions conducive to the spread of dangerous bacteria/virus, it becomes more complicated.
Consider for a moment the combination of seasonal holiday travel and insect-borne diseases like Dengue or Zika virus. This combination creates a huge risk of an accelerated spread of potentially dangerous diseases, which we are much better off preventing than treating. Like with weather, being aware and prepared are the best survival practices, defining the role of broadcasters and public officials worldwide. Being aware and prepared are also news departments’ essential reasons for being. For them, it’s key to have access to available data and the tools to bring this data to the public.
ChyronHego offers a one of a kind data-driven content creation infrastructure, and our data partners have unique capabilities to report on current infectious disease risks and to forecast the spread of diseases, so that broadcasters can provide their audiences with important survival tips.
Let’s go back for a moment, to the link between human behavior, the weather, and the spread of diseases. There’s an obvious correlation between warm, humid weather and the proliferation of mosquitoes, and mosquitoes are known to spread virus causing a slew of diseases. In fact, the mosquito is the most dangerous living organism in the world (second only to humans, one might claim), and knowing how to and when to engage in the prevention of insect-spreading, both as individuals and on a municipal level, is critical. A recent outbreak of Zika-bearing mosquitoes in Florida in the US, for example, has come under criticism for not being proactive enough, since appropriate insecticides were not used until after the peak of the problem, causing a likely spread of the Zika virus to dozens of people.
There’s data and technology available to assist in prevention planning and knowing how to get the data, how to use it and how to convey the important message to the public based on facts, not rumors or speculations, makes the whole difference. Knowledge is power and comes from linking information with the right tools and telling a compelling story, in an effective way, can save lives.
In fact, disease data and weather data are closely linked and there’s an evolving interdisciplinary science field labeled biometeorology, based on medicine and meteorology and combining the expertise that exists within the centers of excellence in private and government enterprises within both fields. Biometeorology represents a groundbreaking opportunity to get a leg up in fighting some diseases that are causing devastation and death around the world - without involving time-consuming and expensive plans like spraying vast areas with insecticide. Instead, it's about making informed choices in everyday life – for example being aware of when E. coli or salmonella bacteria are prone to exist within an area and making the right choices when buying or preparing foods. It all comes down to knowing what to, when to – and sometimes – when not to.
Until next time, stay weather and data aware - and always prepared.