It is difficult to forecast malaria epidemics

Malaria transmission is complex and is associated with climate. However, simple attempts to extrapolate malaria incidence rates from averaged regional meteorological conditions have proven unsuccessful. This study by Loha and Lindtjørn describes P. falciparum malaria incidence models linked with meteorological data in south Ethiopia.

Variability in the models was principally attributed to regional differences, and a single model was not found that fits all locations. Past P. falciparum malaria incidence appeared to be a superior predictor than meteorology. The study concludes that future efforts to model malaria incidence may benefit from inclusion of non-meteorological causes.

This study is agrees with a recent Nature paper by Gething and colleagues. They describe the malaria decline takes place during global warming. The reasons for decline might be non-climatic causes such as better treatment and prevention. The paper by Loha and Lindtjørn shows that factors affecting malaria incidence also varies with a region.

Locally, we are examining possible associations between temperature, rainfall, mosquito development and malaria in both lowlands and highlands in Ethiopia. Through this research, we hope to improve our understanding of the local variations in malaria epidemiology.

Loha, E., & Lindtjørn, B. (2010). Model variations in predicting incidence of Plasmodium falciparum malaria using 1998-2007 morbidity and meteorological data from south Ethiopia Malaria Journal, 9 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1475-2875-9-166

Gething, P., Smith, D., Patil, A., Tatem, A., Snow, R., & Hay, S. (2010). Climate change and the global malaria recession Nature, 465 (7296), 342-345 DOI: 10.1038/nature09098

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