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Spatial patterns of malaria in a land reform colonization project, Juruena municipality, Mato Grosso, Brazil

Elaine Cristina de Oliveira1, Emerson Soares dos Santos2, Peter Zeilhofer3, Reinaldo Souza-Santos4 and Marina Atanaka-Santos5*

Author Affiliations

1 Epidemiological Surveillance, Health Secretary of Mato Grosso. Rua D, Political Administrative Center, Cuiabá, Mato Grosso State, 78.050-970, Brazil

2 Department of Geography, School of Philosophy, Literature and Human Sciences, Av. Prof. Lineu Prestes, 338. Cidade Universitária. University of São Paulo, São Paulo, São Paulo State, 05.508-080. Brazil

3 Department of Geography, Federal University of Mato Grosso, Av. F. Corrêa, Cuiabá, Mato Grosso State, 78.060-900, Brazil

4 Department of Endemic Disease, Brazilian National School of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. Rua Leopoldo Bulhões, 1480, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro State, 21.041-210, Brazil

5 Institute of Public Health, Federal University of Mato Grosso, Av. Fernando Corrêa, Cuiabá, Mato Grosso State, 78.060-900, Brazil

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Malaria Journal 2011, 10:177  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-177

Published: 26 June 2011



In Brazil, 99% of malaria cases are concentrated in the Amazon, and malaria's spatial distribution is commonly associated with socio-environmental conditions on a fine landscape scale. In this study, the spatial patterns of malaria and its determinants in a rural settlement of the Brazilian agricultural reform programme called "Vale do Amanhecer" in the northern Mato Grosso state were analysed.


In a fine-scaled, exploratory ecological study, geocoded notification forms corresponding to malaria cases from 2005 were compared with spectral indices, such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and the third component of the Tasseled Cap Transformation (TC_3) and thematic layers, derived from the visual interpretation of multispectral TM-Landsat 5 imagery and the application of GIS distance operators.


Of a total of 336 malaria cases, 102 (30.36%) were caused by Plasmodium falciparum and 174 (51.79%) by Plasmodium vivax. Of all the cases, 37.6% (133 cases) were from residents of a unique road. In total, 276 cases were reported for the southern part of the settlement, where the population density is higher, with notification rates higher than 10 cases per household. The local landscape mostly consists of open areas (38.79 km²). Training forest occupied 27.34 km² and midsize vegetation 7.01 km². Most domiciles with more than five notified malaria cases were located near areas with high NDVI values. Most domiciles (41.78%) and malaria cases (44.94%) were concentrated in areas with intermediate values of the TC_3, a spectral index representing surface and vegetation humidity.


Environmental factors and their alteration are associated with the occurrence and spatial distribution of malaria cases in rural settlements.