According to the World Health Organization, malaria infects 300-500 million individuals worldwide and is responsible for more than a million fatalities annually. A variety of forces, including socioeconomic and environmental factors, heavily influence this pathogen’s disease dynamics. Since the growth of malaria parasites is extremely temperature sensitive and the global climate appears to be changing, malaria transmission models have increasingly focused on temperature.
Krijn Paaijmans, a CIDD postdoc, and professors Andrew Read and Matthew Thomas have examined the impact of daily temperature fluctuations on malaria parasite development. They found that under cooler conditions these fluctuations increase the rate of parasite development. However, under warmer conditions, diurnal temperature variations slow the parasite’s growth. These data suggest that models using average monthly temperature may be overestimating transmission in warmer climates and underestimating transmission in cooler climates.
The thermodynamic model was validated by using 17 years of daily temperature data from the Kenyan Highlands district of Kericho, an area with a cool climate and regular malaria epidemics. Only when daily temperature fluctuations were incorporated into the model could these epidemics be explained.
This work emphasizes the importance of including daily temperature fluctuation when modeling malaria epidemic potential. Additionally, including such data appears essential for accurately predicting changes in disease epidemics that may occur as a result of global climate change.
Synopsis written by Alexia Karanikas
Written By: Paaijmans KP, Read AF, & Thomas MB
Journal: 33: 13844-13849
Journal Reference: 33: 13844-13849