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    (UPI) — U.S. and Costa Rican scientists say they’ve developed the first climate-based computer model that can predict dengue fever outbreaks in Costa Rica.

    An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Miami and the University of Costa Rica said the new model can predict dengue fever epidemics with 83 percent accuracy, up to 40 weeks in advance of an outbreak and provide information on the magnitude of future epidemics. The Costa Rican model, the researchers said, can be expanded to include the broader region of Latin America and the Caribbean.

    University of Miami Associate Professor Douglas Fuller said an early warning system to prevent and mitigate the spread of the disease, which is also known as “breakbone fever,” can potentially be developed using the model.

    “Such a tool will provide sufficient time for public health authorities to mobilize resources to step up vector control measures, alert at-risk populations to impending conditions and help health professionals plan for increased case loads,” Fuller said. The study was reported earlier this year in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

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