Press Release

Biological Threat Detection System Enhanced by NASA Research Partnership

By SpaceRef Editor
February 20, 2002
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Research funded by NASA at Stennis Space
Center and conducted
by the University of New Mexico Earth Data Analysis Center (EDAC)
could soon result in an
enhanced version of a reporting system that allows health-care
professionals to recognize and react
swiftly to biological threats.

The Rapid Syndrome Validation Project (RSVP) is a real-time syndrome
monitoring system
developed by Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), Albuquerque, N.M., to
report and analyze
symptoms and track disease outbreaks. By analyzing real-time health
information such as the
frequency, chronology and geography of reported symptoms, medical
personnel can be alerted to
non-specific symptoms that could indicate a biological threat.
The RSVP system tracks symptoms, not just confirmed diagnoses, so
unusual symptoms can
serve as an immediate warning. Isolated incidents of fever and
malaise, for example, might seem
insignificant; a coordinated analysis of those symptoms according to
time, location, and frequency,
however, could indicate an infectious disease event in progress.
NASA’s role in the project has been to facilitate the research by UNM
EDAC, a NASA
Affiliated Research Center (ARC), to evaluate the usefulness of remote
sensing data for analysis of
disease transmission and origin. In collaboration with SNL, UNM EDAC
is working to add geospatial reporting capabilities to the system.
This feature will provide geospatial data, including
water conditions, vegetation and wildlife features, to be evaluated in
coordination with those
analytical features already in place. "The RSVP ARC project is an
example of participating at a very
early stage of development of an important disease surveillance system
which is national in scope,"
said Michael Inglis of UNM EDAC.

NASA’s ARC Program is focused on the development of remote sensing
applications to
improve decision-making capabilities for critical areas such as
environmental assessment, resource
management, community growth and infrastructure, and disaster
management. Through innovative
partnerships with leading universities, representatives from state,
local, regional, tribal and
commercial interests can participate in the development of remote
sensing applications that
ultimately provide an operational capability to the respective user
community. "The RSVP is a good
example of a successful ARC project that could yield a valuable
product," said Anne Peek, NASA’s
Earth Science Applications Directorate at Stennis and ARC program
manager.

The RSVP system is operational at the University of New Mexico Medical
Center, the New
Mexico Department of Health, and several other New Mexico sites.
Sandia Laboratories
manufactured the database, which is planned for international use.

SpaceRef staff editor.