CEFOP finishes project on Vibrio parahaemolyticus

CEFOP culminates project that uses remote sensing satellite in the prevention of diseases by Vibrio parahaemolyticus in the Region.

From the point of view of high- resolution digital image processing, microbiology and statistics, foundations were formed to create an “ETA warning system of Vibrio parahaemolyticus risk based on remote sensing technologies.”


The project was divided into two sub-projects: one led by the CEFOP researcher, Oscar Salas, and another sub-project of the Department of Microbiology of the Faculty of biological sciences, in charge of the surgeon Verónica Madrid.  An equation was generated that correlated the sea temperature measured through remote sensing and concentrations of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in mussels, extracted from the Lo Rojas cove in Coronel.

The results of the study, supported by Innova Biobío, were presented to government authorities, entrepreneurs in the fish industry and academics in a ceremony held on October 10 in the El Araucano Hotel of Concepción.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) is a halophilic bacterium that is always present in the sea, but their pathogenicity is activated under certain circumstances. This condition can happen due to an alteration in the availability of nutrients, of plankton, or certain levels of salinity, Ph, or temperature.

In the case of  the Biobío Region coasts, the data obtained during the study carried out by Verónica Madrid, a physician with a Master’s in microbiology, shows that temperature alterations are the determining factor for the increase in Vp, which grows rapidly from 18º C.

From this perspective, engineer Oscar Salas, as a researcher of the laboratory of remote satellite detection, monitored the surface temperature of the sea. From satellite tools and with specific spectral bands, it was possible to obtain the same information which could have been obtained in the place in situ.

During the execution of the project, a total of 724 satellite images from the NOAA18, NOAA19, and AQUA-MODIS satellites were processed, which allowed the generation of maps of sea surface temperature. To adjust the values of temperature concentrations during the period, they established the correlation that, together with data obtained from microbiology, allowed the generation of an equation of risk for an eventual outbreak.

The predictive nature of this system, enables it to be perfected with future measurements, in particular, when the data obtained from satellite images indicates temperatures above 20°C, a situation which could increase the pathogenicity of seafood from the zone.

Dr. Carlos Saavedra pointed out that this project has produced very interesting results. “It is an area with a high economic and social impact to the country, to reduce contamination outbreaks is very important to us. It is a contribution to the region. We could demonstrate, both with the measurement results in situ, and in the laboratory, that there is an important increase in the populations of these bacteria.”

The last great Vp outbreak in the country occurred in the Los Lagos Region during the summer of 2008. At that time, the clinical cases amounted to 3,643 persons affected. This was a critical event for the Chilean health system, recalled Dr. Claudio Báez, current Head of Food Safety of the Regional Ministry of Health, Seremi.



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