From tracking the spread of winter flu season to pinpointing outbreaks of the Ebola virus, public health research frequently begins with a study of the geographic issues. Today, geographic and cartographic information systems, remote sensing satellites, and other technologies are providing U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists with the tools and data to make clear the geographic relationships between environmental conditions and the occurrence of disease.
USGS scientists and health professionals from across the country will come together to identify these linkages at the 3rd Geographic Information Systems in Public Health Conference being held in San Diego, Calif., August 17-20. USGS is a co-sponsor of the conference.
"USGS has always had a strong commitment to supporting public health and safety through our natural hazards and water quality work. We are now bringing our interdisciplinary expertise directly to bear on critical public health issues," said USGS Acting Director Dr. Thomas Casadevall. "These issues affect citizens across the country. Many chronic health issues may relate directly to the environment or to the earth processes that USGS studies."
Dr. Casadevall will be a keynote speaker at the "GIS and Health at the Federal Level" plenary session taking place on Tuesday, August 18, at 10:15 a.m., at the Town and Country Hotel and Convention Center.
During the conference, USGS scientists will share with health professionals their knowledge and expertise in evaluating environmental changes that often lead to the occurrence of disease. Specific topics will include:
* the relationship of water quality (and specific chemicals) to medical conditions;
* the use of GIS software to analyze the spatial distribution of various diseases to determine if patterns exist and if those patterns are correlated with factors in the physical environment; and,