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Land use, land cover affect human health, food security

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

A Kansas State University geography professor is using satellite imagery to research how land use and land cover changes affect human health and food security.

Doug Goodin uses remote sensing, in combination with other types of data, to monitor and forecast the spread of infectious disease. Goodin and other scientists recently discussed this subject at the workshop, "Contributions of Remote Sensing for Decisions about Human Welfare," sponsored by the National Academies of Science in Washington, D.C.

According to Goodin, there is a confluence of change currently taking place across the globe. The world's population is steadily increasing, the global climate is changing and global ecology is being altered. All are thought to be related to the emergence of new diseases or re-emergence of old diseases, he said.

"One of the new paradigms for looking at this kind of thing is that we try to understand the disease as not just something that affects the human being," Goodin said. "We also try to understand its ecological context, its physical context and also its social context because there are certainly social human factors in any kind of disease."

Goodin said one reason for current interest in remote sensing is because it allows researchers to measure or note changes in the delicate balance of ecological systems. He is using the technology to study the re-emergence of hantavirus in the South American country of Paraguay.

The deadly rodent-borne virus is fatal 30 percent to 50 percent of the time in humans.

"By using remote sensing technology, we've been able to understand how human beings have changed the landscape the mice live in," Goodin said. "It forces different kinds of behavior for the mice. It brings them, perhaps, more in contact with each other, so the disease spreads horizontally in the rodent population, and more in contact with pe
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Contact: Doug Goodin
dgoodin@k-state.edu
785-532-3411
Kansas State University
5-Jul-2006


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