Epidemic

The map shows the predicted cholera risk based on analysis and satellite data in Yemen, June 2017. Blue color indicates low risk of cholera while red color indicates high risk of cholera. Image: West Virginia University/Antar Jutla.

Definition

An epidemic is generally defined as the occurrence in a community or region of cases of an illness, specific health-related behaviour, or other health-related events clearly in excess of normal expectancy. The community or region and the period in which the cases occur are specified precisely. The number of cases indicating the presence of an epidemic varies according to the agent, size, and type of population exposed, previous experience or lack of exposure to the disease, and time and place of occurrence (WHO).

Facts and figures

Epidemics occur when an agent and susceptible hosts are present in adequate numbers, and the agent can be effectively conveyed from a source to the susceptible hosts. More specifically, an epidemic may result from:

  • A recent increase in amount or virulence of the agent
  • The recent introduction of the agent into a setting where it has not been before
  • An enhanced mode of transmission so that more susceptible persons are exposed
  • A change in the susceptibility of the host response to the agent, and/or
  • Factors that increase host exposure or involve introduction through new portals of entry (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Epidemics may be the consequence of disasters of another kind, such as tropical storms, floods, earthquakes, droughts, etc. Epidemics may also attack animals, causing local economic disasters (IFRC).

Accordingly to WHO’s classification, these are the major pandemic and epidemic diseases:

Related content on the Knowledge Portal

News

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States Government (NASA) signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 17 December 2020 pledging cooperation in areas of science and technology to support the peaceful uses of outer space.

The MoU brings together NASA's wealth of open-source spacecraft data, tools, and expertise and UNOOSA's unique position as the only UN entity dedicated to outer space affairs, to expand global opportunities to leverage the benefits of space. The partners will design capacity-building programmes, particularly for institutions in countries that do not yet have or that are developing space capabilities, to help them access space.

Together, UNOOSA and NASA will develop ways to leverage the Artemis programme as part of UNOOSA's Access to Space 4 All Initiative, which offers opportunities for international researchers and institutions, especially in... read more

Publishing date: 11/01/2021
Snapshot of the SIRIS platform in action. Image: Mexican Space Agency (AEM)

In collaboration with the National Commission for Space Activities (CONAE) of Argentina, the Mexican Space Agency (AEM) recently launched a digital platform to improve the integration of satellite data for environmental monitoring in Latin America. The Comprehensive Regional Satellite Information System (SIRIS) provides access to satellite information in order to enhance decision-making and facilitate disaster management.

The SIRIS platform provides access to satellite imagery for different areas. The platform supplies information on the agriculture and forestry sector to better monitor the impact of natural disasters on agricultural production and woodland. It also offers up-to-date and archived data on fires to strengthen early warning and build long-term resilience. On floods, information provided by SIRIS indicates the water level to improve damage evaluation of the impacted area and facilitate humanitarian relief. In... read more

Publishing date: 20/12/2020
Custom Script Contest - COVID-19 edition logo. Image: Sentinel Hub

The European Space Agency (ESA), in coordination with the European Commission, is launching a special edition of the Custom Script Contest, focused on the support of space assets during the COVID-19 crisis, managed by Euro Data Cube group. The contest is looking for remote sensing experts, machine learning scientists and interested public to make proposals on how satellite data can help with observation of changes in economic operators, changes in human activity distribution and changes in agriculture activity, among other applications. The aim of the contest is to help mitigate the COVID-19 situation in the upcoming months.

Participants can produce scripts using data from various sources, such as the European Sentinel satellites, Airbus and Planet data, as well as data from Pleiades and PlanetScope. Different tools can be used, including EO Browser, Sentinel Hub and xcube services, eo-learn, and Jupyter Notebooks.

Participants can... read more

Publishing date: 03/04/2020

Data Source

Population Density Map. Image: Facebook Connectivity
Publishing institution: Facebook Connectivity Lab, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) - Columbia University
Facebook Connectivity Lab in collaboration with the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Colombia University combines machine vision AI with satellite imagery and census information to create population density maps. With the integration of demographic information, specifically related to age and gender, these maps collectively provide information on both the location and the demographic of a population in a certain country. The population density maps cover the majority of countries around the world.
Population Density Map. Image: Facebook Connectivity
Publishing institution: Facebook Connectivity Lab, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) - Columbia University
Facebook Connectivity Lab in collaboration with the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Colombia University combines machine vision AI with satellite imagery and census information to create population density maps. With the integration of demographic information, specifically related to age and gender, these maps collectively provide information on both the location and the demographic of a population in a certain country. The population density maps cover the majority of countries around the world.
Publishing institution: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
The online platform features over one million geospatial layers and thousands of statistics series related to food security, crops, soil, land, water, climate, fisheries, livestock, forestry and more. It also includes information on COVID-19's impact on food and agriculture.

Event

WCDM 2020 picture of floods. Image: WCDM

World Congress on Disaster Management (WCDM) is a unique initiative of DMICS to bring researchers, policy makers and practitioners from around the world in the same platform to discuss various challenging issues of disaster risk management. The mission of WCDM is to promote interaction of science, policy and practices to enhance understanding of risks and advance actions for reducing risks and building resilience to disasters.

The Conference will discuss various topics, including:

  • Remote Sensing, GIS and Drones for Disaster Risk Management
  • Early Warning of Hydro-Meteorological Disasters: Tasks Ahead
  • Early Warning of Earthquakes: How Far, How Near
  • Operationalising Early Warning of Landslides
  • Application of Artificial Intelligence for Managing Risks of Disasters
  • Emerging Technologies for Climate & Disaster Resistant Agriculture
The Conference will provide in-depth analysis of the following... read more
False-colour image of Mumbai, highlighting mangrove forests in dark green. Image: NASA.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected humanity in an unprecedented manner. This has brought attention to pandemics as a disaster with global disruption of political, social and economic life. In the light of such a global affliction, UNESCO and its "Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage", comprising the largest membership of 193 States Parties, is uniquely placed to address these issues, which require collaboration and cooperation among all countries. The Convention has designated 1121 World Heritage Sites, with 869 iconic cultural monuments and sites, and 252 natural and mixed sites which are home to the most exceptional wildlife and forests on earth.

Pandemics can have serious repercussions for these sites affecting their outstanding universal values. These unique protected areas and cultural spaces are also a critical source of dependence, sustenance and coping mechanism for the associated society, communities, species and... read more

On 14 May, UNOOSA will be hosting two sessions of a webinar on space applications to support global health, including to fight coronavirus. The two sessions will take place at 10-11.30am and 4-5.30pm Vienna, Austria time (UTC+2).

During the 90-minute sessions, experts from UNOOSA, as well as from other international organisations, governments and private sector companies operating in the space sector will discuss how space applications can strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of epidemics and other health risks. Particular attention will be paid to the current coronavirus pandemic.

The webinar will also cover what UNOOSA is doing to help all countries access the potential of space science and applications for better health and integrate these tools in national policies and practices. 

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