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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

A regional-scale, high resolution dynamical malaria model that accounts for population density, climate and surface hydrology

Adrian M Tompkins1* and Volker Ermert2

Author Affiliations

1 Earth System Physics, Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Strada Costiera 11, Trieste, Italy

2 Institute of Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne, Kerpener Str. 13, Cologne, Germany

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Malaria Journal 2013, 12:65  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-65

Published: 18 February 2013

Abstract

Background

The relative roles of climate variability and population related effects in malaria transmission could be better understood if regional-scale dynamical malaria models could account for these factors.

Methods

A new dynamical community malaria model is introduced that accounts for the temperature and rainfall influences on the parasite and vector life cycles which are finely resolved in order to correctly represent the delay between the rains and the malaria season. The rainfall drives a simple but physically based representation of the surface hydrology. The model accounts for the population density in the calculation of daily biting rates.

Results

Model simulations of entomological inoculation rate and circumsporozoite protein rate compare well to data from field studies from a wide range of locations in West Africa that encompass both seasonal endemic and epidemic fringe areas. A focus on Bobo-Dioulasso shows the ability of the model to represent the differences in transmission rates between rural and peri-urban areas in addition to the seasonality of malaria. Fine spatial resolution regional integrations for Eastern Africa reproduce the malaria atlas project (MAP) spatial distribution of the parasite ratio, and integrations for West and Eastern Africa show that the model grossly reproduces the reduction in parasite ratio as a function of population density observed in a large number of field surveys, although it underestimates malaria prevalence at high densities probably due to the neglect of population migration.

Conclusions

A new dynamical community malaria model is publicly available that accounts for climate and population density to simulate malaria transmission on a regional scale. The model structure facilitates future development to incorporate migration, immunity and interventions.