220925 Reducing tick-borne disease in Alabama: Linking health risk perception with spatial analysis using the NASA Earth Observing System

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 11:10 AM - 11:30 AM

Sarah Hemmings, MS , NASA DEVELOP Program, Laboratory for Global Health Observation, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Birmingham, AL
Nathan Renneboog, BS , NASA DEVELOP Program, Laboratory for Global Health Observation, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Birmingham, AL
Stephen Firsing III, MPA, MA , Dept of Human Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, Univ of Alabama at Birmingham & United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Emily Capilouto , NASA DEVELOP Program, Laboratory for Global Health Observation, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Birmingham, AL
Joshua Harden , NASA DEVELOP Program, Laboratory for Global Health Observation, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Birmingham, AL
Robyn Hyden, BA , NASA DEVELOP Program, Laboratory for Global Health Observation, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Birmingham, AL
Meghan Tipre, BDS, MSPH , NASA DEVELOP Program, Laboratory for Global Health Observation, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Birmingham, AL
Yan Zhang, MPH , NASA DEVELOP Program, Laboratory for Global Health Observation, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Birmingham, AL
Jeffrey Luvall, PhD , VP61, Marshall Space Flight Center/National Space Science and Technology Center/Global Hydrology and Climate Center, NASA, Huntsville, AL
BACKGROUND: Lyme disease (LD) accounts for most vector-borne disease reports in the U.S., and although its existence in Alabama remains controversial, other tick-borne illnesses (TBI) such as Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI) pose a health concern in the state. Phase One of the Marshall Space Flight Center-UAB DEVELOP study of TBI identified the presence of the chain of infection for LD (Ixodes scapularis ticks carrying Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria) and STARI (Amblyomma americanum ticks and an as-yet-unconfirmed agent) in Alabama. OBJECTIVE/PURPOSE: Both LD and STARI are associated with the development of erythema migrans rashes around an infected tick bite, and while treatable with oral antibiotics, a review of educational resources available to state residents revealed low levels of prevention information. To improve prevention, recognition, and treatment of TBI in Alabama, Phase Two builds a health communication campaign based on vector habitat mapping and risk perception assessment.

METHODS: NASA Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) satellite imagery identified likely tick habitats using remotely sensed measurements of vegetation vigor (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) and soil moisture. To target a high-risk group outdoor recreation program participants at Alabama universities the study developed a behavior survey instrument based on existing studies of TBI risk factors and theoretical constructs from the Social Ecological Model and Health Belief Model. RESULTS: Likely tick habitats, identified as those containing both high vegetation density and soil moisture, included Oak Mountain State Park, Bankhead National Forest, and Talladega National Forest. The survey instrument was amended to include geographic variables in the assessment of TBI knowledge, attitudes, and prevention behaviors. DISCUSSION/CONCLUSIONS: Remotely sensed environmental data combined with risk perception assessments inform an ongoing outreach campaign consisting of stakeholder meetings and educational seminars. The vector habitat model will be expanded to incorporate additional environmental variables and in situ data.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the use of remotely sensed NASA Earth Science Data for projects related to human health. 2. Discuss the benefits of using remote sensing in the prediction and mitigation of diseases. 3. Discuss the combination of health behavior data with vector habitat mapping to inform a health communication campaign.

Keywords: Environment, Geographic Information Systems

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I hold an M.S. in environmental science and am an MPH candidate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I am a participant in the NASA DEVELOP Program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.