Mapping Physiological Suitability Limits for Malaria in Africa Under Climate Change.
ABSTRACT: We mapped current and future temperature suitability for malaria transmission in Africa using a published model that incorporates nonlinear physiological responses to temperature of the mosquito vector Anopheles gambiae and the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. We found that a larger area of Africa currently experiences the ideal temperature for transmission than previously supposed. Under future climate projections, we predicted a modest increase in the overall area suitable for malaria transmission, but a net decrease in the most suitable area. Combined with human population density projections, our maps suggest that areas with temperatures suitable for year-round, highest-risk transmission will shift from coastal West Africa to the Albertine Rift between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, whereas areas with seasonal transmission suitability will shift toward sub-Saharan coastal areas. Mapping temperature suitability places important bounds on malaria transmissibility and, along with local level demographic, socioeconomic, and ecological factors, can indicate where resources may be best spent on malaria control.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Climate change is expected to affect the distribution of environmental suitability for malaria transmission by altering temperature and rainfall patterns; however, the local and global impacts of climate change on malaria transmission are uncertain. OBJECTIVE: We assessed the effect of climate change on malaria transmission in West Africa. METHODS: We coupled a detailed mechanistic hydrology and entomology model with climate projections from general circulation models (GCMs) to predict changes in vectorial capacity, an indication of the risk of human malaria infections, resulting from changes in the availability of mosquito breeding sites and temperature-dependent development rates. Because there is strong disagreement in climate predictions from different GCMs, we focused on the GCM projections that produced the best and worst conditions for malaria transmission in each zone of the study area. RESULTS: Simulation-based estimates suggest that in the desert fringes of the Sahara, vectorial capacity would increase under the worst-case scenario, but not enough to sustain transmission. In the transitional zone of the Sahel, climate change is predicted to decrease vectorial capacity. In the wetter regions to the south, our estimates suggest an increase in vectorial capacity under all scenarios. However, because malaria is already highly endemic among human populations in these regions, we expect that changes in malaria incidence would be small. CONCLUSION: Our findings highlight the importance of rainfall in shaping the impact of climate change on malaria transmission in future climates. Even under the GCM predictions most conducive to malaria transmission, we do not expect to see a significant increase in malaria prevalence in this region.
Project description:Continental-scale models of malaria climate suitability typically couple well-established temperature-response models with basic estimates of vector habitat availability using rainfall as a proxy. Here we show that across continental Africa, the estimated geographic range of climatic suitability for malaria transmission is more sensitive to the precipitation threshold than the thermal response curve applied. To address this problem we use downscaled daily climate predictions from seven GCMs to run a continental-scale hydrological model for a process-based representation of mosquito breeding habitat availability. A more complex pattern of malaria suitability emerges as water is routed through drainage networks and river corridors serve as year-round transmission foci. The estimated hydro-climatically suitable area for stable malaria transmission is smaller than previous models suggest and shows only a very small increase in state-of-the-art future climate scenarios. However, bigger geographical shifts are observed than with most rainfall threshold models and the pattern of that shift is very different when using a hydrological model to estimate surface water availability for vector breeding.
Project description:West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-transmitted Flavivirus belonging to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the Flaviviridae family. Its spread in the Mediterranean basin and the Balkans poses a significant risk to human health and forces public health officials to constantly monitor the virus transmission to ensure prompt application of preventive measures. In this context, predictive tools indicating the areas and periods at major risk of WNV transmission are of paramount importance. Spatial analysis approaches, which use environmental and climatic variables to find suitable habitats for WNV spread, can enhance predictive techniques. Using the Mahalanobis Distance statistic, areas ecologically most suitable for sustaining WNV transmission were identified in the Mediterranean basin and Central Europe. About 270 human and equine clinical cases notified in Italy, Greece, Portugal, Morocco, and Tunisia, between 2008 and 2012, have been considered. The environmental variables included in the model were altitude, slope, night time Land Surface Temperature, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, Enhanced Vegetation Index, and daily temperature range. Seasonality of mosquito population has been modelled and included in the analyses to produce monthly maps of suitable areas for West Nile Disease. Between May and July, the most suitable areas are located in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and North Cyprus. Summer/Autumn months, particularly between August and October, characterize the suitability in Italy, France, Spain, the Balkan countries, Morocco, North Tunisia, the Mediterranean coast of Africa, and the Middle East. The persistence of suitable conditions in December is confined to the coastal areas of Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Israel.
Project description:BACKGROUND: In the first part of this study, an extensive literature survey led to the construction of a new version of the Liverpool Malaria Model (LMM). A new set of parameter settings was provided and a new development of the mathematical formulation of important processes related to the vector population was performed within the LMM. In this part of the study, so far undetermined model parameters are calibrated through the use of data from field studies. The latter are also used to validate the new LMM version, which is furthermore compared against the original LMM version. METHODS: For the calibration and validation of the LMM, numerous entomological and parasitological field observations were gathered for West Africa. Continuous and quality-controlled temperature and precipitation time series were constructed using intermittent raw data from 34 weather stations across West Africa. The meteorological time series served as the LMM data input. The skill of LMM simulations was tested for 830 different sets of parameter settings of the undetermined LMM parameters. The model version with the highest skill score in terms of entomological malaria variables was taken as the final setting of the new LMM version. RESULTS: Validation of the new LMM version in West Africa revealed that the simulations compare well with entomological field observations. The new version reproduces realistic transmission rates and simulated malaria seasons are comparable to field observations. Overall the new model version performs much better than the original model. The new model version enables the detection of the epidemic malaria potential at fringes of endemic areas and, more importantly, it is now applicable to the vast area of malaria endemicity in the humid African tropics. CONCLUSIONS: A review of entomological and parasitological data from West Africa enabled the construction of a new LMM version. This model version represents a significant step forward in the modelling of a weather-driven malaria transmission cycle. The LMM is now more suitable for the use in malaria early warning systems as well as for malaria projections based on climate change scenarios, both in epidemic and endemic malaria areas.
Project description:Temperature suitability for malaria transmission is a useful predictor variable for spatial models of malaria infection prevalence. Existing continental or global models, however, are synoptic in nature and so do not characterize inter-annual variability in seasonal patterns of temperature suitability, reducing their utility for predicting malaria risk.A malaria Temperature Suitability Index (TSI) was created by first modeling minimum and maximum air temperature with an eight-day temporal resolution from gap-filled MODerate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) daytime and night-time Land Surface Temperature (LST) datasets. An improved version of an existing biological model for malaria temperature suitability was then applied to the resulting temperature information for a 13-year data series. The mechanism underlying this biological model is simulation of emergent mosquito cohorts on a two-hour time-step and tracking of each cohort throughout its life to quantify the impact air temperature has on both mosquito survival and sporozoite development.The results of this research consist of 154 monthly raster surfaces that characterize spatiotemporal patterns in TSI across Africa from April 2000 through December 2012 at a 1 km spatial resolution. Generalized TSI patterns were as expected, with consistently high values in equatorial rain forests, seasonally variable values in tropical savannas (wet and dry) and montane areas, and low values in arid, subtropical regions. Comparisons with synoptic approaches demonstrated the additional information available within the dynamic TSI dataset that is lost in equivalent synoptic products derived from long-term monthly averages.The dynamic TSI dataset presented here provides a new product with far richer spatial and temporal information than any other presently available for Africa. As spatiotemporal malaria modeling endeavors evolve, dynamic predictor variables such as the malaria temperature suitability data developed here will be essential for the rational assessment of changing patterns of malaria risk.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Climate change will probably alter the spread and transmission intensity of malaria in Africa. OBJECTIVES: In this study, we assessed potential changes in the malaria transmission via an integrated weather-disease model. METHODS: We simulated mosquito biting rates using the Liverpool Malaria Model (LMM). The input data for the LMM were bias-corrected temperature and precipitation data from the regional model (REMO) on a 0.5° latitude-longitude grid. A Plasmodium falciparum infection model expands the LMM simulations to incorporate information on the infection rate among children. Malaria projections were carried out with this integrated weather-disease model for 2001 to 2050 according to two climate scenarios that include the effect of anthropogenic land-use and land-cover changes on climate. RESULTS: Model-based estimates for the present climate (1960 to 2000) are consistent with observed data for the spread of malaria in Africa. In the model domain, the regions where malaria is epidemic are located in the Sahel as well as in various highland territories. A decreased spread of malaria over most parts of tropical Africa is projected because of simulated increased surface temperatures and a significant reduction in annual rainfall. However, the likelihood of malaria epidemics is projected to increase in the southern part of the Sahel. In most of East Africa, the intensity of malaria transmission is expected to increase. Projections indicate that highland areas that were formerly unsuitable for malaria will become epidemic, whereas in the lower-altitude regions of the East African highlands, epidemic risk will decrease. CONCLUSIONS: We project that climate changes driven by greenhouse-gas and land-use changes will significantly affect the spread of malaria in tropical Africa well before 2050. The geographic distribution of areas where malaria is epidemic might have to be significantly altered in the coming decades.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Ambient temperature is an important determinant of malaria transmission and suitability, affecting the life-cycle of the Plasmodium parasite and Anopheles vector. Early models predicted a thermal malaria transmission optimum of 31 °C, later revised to 25 °C using experimental data from mosquito and parasite biology. However, the link between ambient temperature and human malaria incidence remains poorly resolved. METHODS:To evaluate the relationship between ambient temperature and malaria risk, 5833 febrile children (<18 years-old) with an acute, non-localizing febrile illness were enrolled from four heterogenous outpatient clinic sites in Kenya (Chulaimbo, Kisumu, Msambweni and Ukunda). Thick and thin blood smears were evaluated for the presence of malaria parasites. Daily temperature estimates were obtained from land logger data, and rainfall from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Africa Rainfall Climatology (ARC) data. Thirty-day mean temperature and 30-day cumulative rainfall were estimated and each lagged by 30 days, relative to the febrile visit. A generalized linear mixed model was used to assess relationships between malaria smear positivity and predictors including temperature, rainfall, age, sex, mosquito exposure and socioeconomic status. RESULTS:Malaria smear positivity varied between 42-83% across four clinic sites in western and coastal Kenya, with highest smear positivity in the rural, western site. The temperature ranges were cooler in the western sites and warmer in the coastal sites. In multivariate analysis controlling for socioeconomic status, age, sex, rainfall and bednet use, malaria smear positivity peaked near 25 °C at all four sites, as predicted a priori from an ecological model. CONCLUSIONS:This study provides direct field evidence of a unimodal relationship between ambient temperature and human malaria incidence with a peak in malaria transmission occurring at lower temperatures than previously recognized clinically. This nonlinear relationship with an intermediate optimal temperature implies that future climate warming could expand malaria incidence in cooler, highland regions while decreasing incidence in already warm regions with average temperatures above 25 °C. These findings support efforts to further understand the nonlinear association between ambient temperature and vector-borne diseases to better allocate resources and respond to disease threats in a future, warmer world.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Dengue is the second most important vector-borne disease of humans globally after malaria. Incidence of dengue infections has dramatically increased recently, potentially due to changing climate. Climate projections models predict increases in average annual temperature, precipitation and extreme events in the future. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of changing climate on distribution of dengue vectors in relation to epidemic risk areas in Tanzania. METHODS/FINDINGS:We used ecological niche models that incorporated presence-only infected Aedes aegypti data co-occurrence with dengue virus to estimate potential distribution of epidemic risk areas. Model input data on infected Ae. aegypti was collected during the May to June 2014 epidemic in Dar es Salaam. Bioclimatic predictors for current and future projections were also used as model inputs. Model predictions indicated that habitat suitability for infected Ae. aegypti co-occurrence with dengue virus in current scenarios is highly localized in the coastal areas, including Dar es Salaam, Pwani, Morogoro, Tanga and Zanzibar. Models indicate that areas of Kigoma, Ruvuma, Lindi, and those around Lake Victoria are also at risk. Projecting to 2020, we show that risk emerges in Mara, Arusha, Kagera and Manyara regions, but disappears in parts of Morogoro, Ruvuma and near Lake Nyasa. In 2050 climate scenario, the predicted habitat suitability of infected Ae. aegypti co-occurrence with dengue shifted towards the central and north-eastern parts with intensification in areas around all major lakes. Generally, model findings indicated that the coastal regions would remain at high risk for dengue epidemic through 2050. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE:Models incorporating climate change scenarios to predict emerging risk areas for dengue epidemics in Tanzania show that the anticipated risk is immense and results help guiding public health policy decisions on surveillance and control of dengue epidemics. A collaborative approach is recommended to develop and adapt control and prevention strategies.
Project description:In an era of big data, the availability of satellite-derived global climate, terrain, and land cover imagery presents an opportunity for modeling the suitability of malaria disease vectors at fine spatial resolutions, across temporal scales, and over vast geographic extents. Leveraging cloud-based geospatial analytical tools, we present an environmental suitability model that considers water resources, flow accumulation areas, precipitation, temperature, vegetation, and land cover. In contrast to predictive models generated using spatially and temporally discontinuous mosquito presence information, this model provides continuous fine-spatial resolution information on the biophysical drivers of suitability. For the purposes of this study the model is parameterized for Anopheles gambiae s.s. in Malawi for the rainy (December-March) and dry seasons (April-November) in 2017; however, the model may be repurposed to accommodate different mosquito species, temporal periods, or geographical boundaries. Final products elucidate the drivers and potential habitat of Anopheles gambiae s.s. Rainy season results are presented by quartile of precipitation; Quartile four (Q4) identifies areas most likely to become inundated and shows 7.25% of Malawi exhibits suitable water conditions (water only) for Anopheles gambiae s.s., approximately 16% for water plus another factor, and 8.60% is maximally suitable, meeting suitability thresholds for water presence, terrain characteristics, and climatic conditions. Nearly 21% of Malawi is suitable for breeding based on land characteristics alone and 28.24% is suitable according to climate and land characteristics. Only 6.14% of the total land area is suboptimal. Dry season results show 25.07% of the total land area is suboptimal or unsuitable. Approximately 42% of Malawi is suitable based on land characteristics alone during the dry season, and 13.11% is suitable based on land plus another factor. Less than 2% meets suitability criteria for climate, water, and land criteria. Findings illustrate environmental drivers of suitability for malaria vectors, providing an opportunity for a more comprehensive approach to malaria control that includes not only modeled species distributions, but also the underlying drivers of suitability for a more effective approach to environmental management.
Project description:Yellow fever virus (YFV) is a vector-borne flavivirus endemic to Africa and Latin America. Ninety per cent of the global burden occurs in Africa where it is primarily transmitted by Aedes spp, with Aedes aegypti the main vector for urban yellow fever (YF). Mosquito life cycle and viral replication in the mosquito are heavily dependent on climate, particularly temperature and rainfall. We aimed to assess whether seasonal variations in climatic factors are associated with the seasonality of YF reports.We constructed a temperature suitability index for YFV transmission, capturing the temperature dependence of mosquito behaviour and viral replication within the mosquito. We then fitted a series of multilevel logistic regression models to a dataset of YF reports across Africa, considering location and seasonality of occurrence for seasonal models, against the temperature suitability index, rainfall and the Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) as covariates alongside further demographic indicators. Model fit was assessed by the Area Under the Curve (AUC), and models were ranked by Akaike's Information Criterion which was used to weight model outputs to create combined model predictions. The seasonal model accurately captured both the geographic and temporal heterogeneities in YF transmission (AUC = 0.81), and did not perform significantly worse than the annual model which only captured the geographic distribution. The interaction between temperature suitability and rainfall accounted for much of the occurrence of YF, which offers a statistical explanation for the spatio-temporal variability in transmission.The description of seasonality offers an explanation for heterogeneities in the West-East YF burden across Africa. Annual climatic variables may indicate a transmission suitability not always reflected in seasonal interactions. This finding, in conjunction with forecasted data, could highlight areas of increased transmission and provide insights into the occurrence of large outbreaks, such as those seen in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Brazil.