Introduction

Effective control of contagious diseases requires a good understanding of the space-time dynamics of transmission. Such a better understanding contributes to the development of effective strategies that support the prevention of disease outbreaks or, if outbreaks occur, contribute to the implementation of the most effective strategy to stop the spread.

A wide range of earth observation products can play an important role in modelling and understanding the spatial and temporal aspects of the epidemiology of such contagious diseases at various resolutions and scales and contribute to decision making in their control.

Two diseases (i.e.Blue Tongue and Foot-And-Mouth Disease) were selected to serve as an example. They represent the important groups of vector-borne (Bluetongue) and highly contagious (Foot-and-Mouth Disease) viral diseases that can have devastating effects on the livestock sector.

Both cases have important spatial and temporal connotations, are strongly data-driven and use similar remote sensing information sources. In addition, given the epidemiological differences mentioned above, they enabled EPISTIS to develop a wider range of spatial epidemiology and modelling approaches.

The whole process was integrated into a Space and Time Information System (STIS) used as a decision support tool.

The approaches that were developed and implemented are as much as possible generic and can be readily applied to other case studies (notably relating to human health).

EPISTIS was financed by the Belgian Science Policy Office through the STEREO II programme.

The Steering Committee of the project was composed of experts in remote sensing and veterinary science and of potential users of the resulting STIS.