Piecing Together the Puzzle of the Mysterious Sin Nombre Virus

Earthzine2015 Spring VPS, Analyzing Air Quality and Habitat Health, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

Category: Analyzing Air Quality and Habitat Health

Project Team: Southwest Health and Climate

Team Location: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center ‰ÛÒ Huntsville, Alabama

Depiction of slope for Montana and Southwest United States, including Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Slope was derived from the ASTER instrument onboard Terra. Image Credit: Southwest Health and Climate Team


Daryl Ann Winstead

Megan Carter

Padraic Conner


Dr. Jeff Luvall (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center)


The deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) is a broadly-distributed species which inhabits the majority of the United States. Deer mice are the primary reservoir of Sin Nombre Virus (SNV), a zoonosis in the Hantavirus genus. Humans contract the virus after being in contact with deer mouse saliva and excrement. Since the initial outbreak, SNV has been fatal to many young, healthy individuals rather than affecting young children and elderly individuals like other types of viruses. NASA Earth observations have increased understanding of the suitable habitat for the deer mouse, and helped identify more precisely where SNV infections may arise. Supervised land cover classifications during the spring season in 1993, 2003, and 2013 were developed using Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI), Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+), and Landsat 5 and 4 Thematic Mapper (TM). Using a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) from Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) onboard Terra, variables such as elevation were examined to determine the suitable habitat for the deer mouse. Environmental Data Records (EDRs) for land surface temperature and vegetation indices were used from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) onboard Suomi NPP. Variability of precipitation over the study period from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) was used to examine net primary production (NPP). These variables were then used in the Princeton Maximum Entropy Model (MaxEnt) to create the habitat suitability map of the deer mouse. The suitable habitat was used alongside ancillary income and population data in order to better predict areas of SNV infection. These products will benefit end-users by providing more precise locations to research for the SNV in deer mouse populations as well as future areas of concern as the climate changes.

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