Potential effect of climate change on malaria transmission in Africa.
Le Sueur, D.
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Background: Climate change is likely to affect transmission of vector-borne diseases such as malaria. We quantitatively estimated current malaria exposure and assessed the potential effect of projected climate scenarios on malaria transmission. Methods: We produced a spatiotemporally validated (against 3791 parasite surveys) model of Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission in Africa. Using different climate scenarios from the Hadley Centre global climate model (HAD CM3) climate experiments, we projected the potential effect of climate change on transmission patterns. Findings: Our model showed sensitivity and specificity of 63% and 96%, respectively (within 1 month temporal accuracy), when compared with the parasite surveys. We estimate that on average there are 3.1 billion person-months of exposure (445 million people exposed) in Africa per year. The projected scenarios would estimate a 5-7% potential increase (mainly altitudinal) in malaria distribution with surprisingly little increase in the latitudinal extents of the disease by 2100. Of the overall potential increase (although transmission will decrease in some countries) of 16-28% in person-months of exposure (assuming a constant population), a large proportion will be seen in areas of existing transmission. Interpretation: The effect of projected climate change indicates that a prolonged transmission season is as important as geographical expansion in correct assessment of the effect of changes in transmission patterns. Our model constitutes a valid baseline against which climate scenarios can be assessed and interventions planned.
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