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DART (Dengue Advanced Readiness Tools), is a new project supported by Wellcome to use climate data to better predict and prepare for infectious diseases outbreaks.

The climate crisis is a health emergency which is threatening the lives and wellbeing of communities around the world in many ways – including the spread of infectious diseases. As global temperatures continue to warm, more places are becoming suitable habitats for disease-carrying mosquitoes. Increases in extreme weather events like storms and floods can also contaminate water supplies and disrupt access to safe sanitation, causing the spread of life-threatening infections.

The DART Project brings together a community of relevant experts on climate data and infectious disease, involving scientists from several departments at the University of Oxford, alongside Vietnam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi. The multidisciplinary team aims to connect meteorological, hydrological, entomological, human behaviour and epidemiological data to provide a dengue forecasting and visualisation resource responding to the needs of health officers, the general public, and clinicians.

Researchers from the Nuffield Department of Medicine’s Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU)  will work with colleagues in the Department of Engineering Science’s Oxford e-Research Centre, the Department of Physics and the Department of Biology to analyse epidemiological and weather forecasting data and produce meaningful information such as size, duration and timing of dengue outbreaks for public health officers, risk of exposure for the general public, and hospital/ICU bed occupancy for clinicians.

The project will concentrate on two case study cities, the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, which has experienced a recent emergence of dengue fever, and Ho Chi Minh City, which has persistent, high levels of dengue occurrence. Dengue fever is a viral infection transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes and can be dangerous or life-threatening if left untreated.

This project is funded by Wellcome, and is one of the 24 research teams in 12 countries around the world to receive funding for developing innovative digital tools to model the relationship between climate change and infectious disease.

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