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.


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

Data Source

Publishing institution: European Space Agency (ESA)
ESA's Earth Observation Thematic Exploitation Platform (TEP) is a browser for satellite imagery and specific products on an environmental topic. The TEP platforms are divided into 7 categories: Coastal; Forstry; Geohazards; Hydrology; Polar; Urban; and Food Security. Each platform is a collaborative, virtual work environment providing access to EO data and the tools, processors and Information and Communication Technology resources required to work with them. TEP aims to bridge the gap between the users and the data and tools.
Publishing institution: Airbus Defence & Space
Pleidas, TerraSar-X, SPOT and Elevation data available commercially from airbus, certain sample data sets at various locations available for free.
Publishing institution: Radiant Earth Foundation
The website: https://www.radiant.earth Help and Tutorials: https://help.radiant.earth/ Demos & Use Cases: https://demos.radiant.earth/
Publishing institution: NASA Earth Science Disasters Program
NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) is a program for archiving and distributing Earth science data from multiple missions to users.
Publishing institution: European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT)
Map Viewer that allows downloading and time series creation of Meteosat and Sentinel-3 products.


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

Dengue fever is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes. “Today the disease is endemic in 141 countries, affecting 390 million people and with a global annual cost estimated at almost US$9 billion. Since 2000, there has been an increase of over 100% in the number of cases of dengue fever in Vietnam, and there is currently no system for forecasting future dengue outbreaks.” according to a Space for Development article. Through their ability to capture important insights about rainfall, temperature, humidity, and soil moisture, among other factors,  Earth observation satellites could offer a way to detect early warning signs of the disease.

In an attempt to help reduce the prevalence of... read more

Publishing date: 20/08/2019

GP-STAR factsheet

Schematic Workflow for the derivation of an exemplary Sendai indicator using crisis information generated from satellite remote sensing (Source: own figure; Copernicus Emergency Management Service (©European Union), EMSN024, EMSN056)
Publishing institution: German Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance

To meet the global challenges, the United Nations adopted several framework agreements, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). The framework builds the international reference point for disaster preparedness and focuses on reducing existing and future disaster risks as well as enhancing disaster resilience. In the Sendai framework, seven global targets have been agreed to measure global progress in implementing the framework through quantifiable indicators and to present, compare and evaluate the status and progress uniformly worldwide. The recording of the status and degree of target achievement using the agreed indicators requires the use of various data sources, which must be consistent and comparable in time and space in order to ensure global monitoring.


Hazard group

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