Nav: Home

New methods help advance infectious disease forecasting

January 06, 2016

KNOXVILLE--While tremendous progress has been made to eliminate malaria worldwide, about 3.2 billion people--nearly half the world's population--are at risk of the disease, according to the World Health Organization. New tools to help advance infectious disease forecasting are needed.

A study from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis develops new methods to detect the onset of critical transitions in infectious disease epidemics, such as malaria.

"Billions of dollars are spent annually on various interventions to stop diseases like malaria, and the investments have made a difference. But, government and public health agencies need the will to continue making these investments after the initial reduction of cases has occurred. The question becomes at what point does the continued investment pay off?" said lead author and NIMBioS postdoctoral fellow Suzanne O'Regan. "Quantitative evaluation tools can go a long way in helping governments and philanthropic organizations choose the optimal level of investment in control and elimination activities after the number of cases slows down."

The method developed in the study, which was published in the journal Theoretical Ecology, identifies the critical slowing-down period in human cases of the mosquito-borne parasite that causes malaria, suggesting that eradicating the disease could be anticipated even without a full of understanding of the underlying mechanisms that are causing the slow down.

The researchers used a mathematical model to study the gradual implementation of four common tactics used to control and eliminate malaria: using bed nets to reduce the number of mosquito bites, spraying indoor insecticides to shorten mosquito lifespans, administering drugs that reduce the human infectious period, and eliminating mosquito habitat.

The analysis focuses on malaria, but the findings are relevant to other mosquito-borne infections, such as yellow fever, also endemic in some parts of the world.

"Our work suggests that online algorithms for detecting changes in leading indicators may be achievable and could eventually be developed, possibly aiding sustainment of the gains made by elimination programs," O'Regan said.
-end-
Citation: O'Regan SM, Lillie JW, Drake JM. 2015. Leading indicators of mosquito-borne disease elimination. Theoretical Ecology. [Online] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12080-015-0285-5/fulltext.html

Photo Title: Malaria Forecasting
Caption: An Anopheles stephensi mosquito is a vector of malaria, and mosquito control is an effective way of reducing its incidence. New methods have been developed to detect the onset of critical transitions in infectious disease epidemics, such as malaria.
Photo Credit: CDC

The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis is an NSF-supported center that brings together researchers from around the world to collaborate across disciplinary boundaries to investigate solutions to basic and applied problems in the life sciences.

CONTACT:

Suzanne O'Regan, NIMBioS, +1-865-974-9458, soregan@nimbios.org
Catherine Crawley, NIMBioS, +1-865-974-9350, ccrawley@nimbios.org

National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)

Related Malaria Articles:

Could there be a 'social vaccine' for malaria?
Malaria is a global killer and a world health concern.
Transgenic plants against malaria
Scientists have discovered a gene that allows to double the production of artemisinin in the Artemisia annua plant.
Fighting malaria through metabolism
EPFL scientists have fully modeled the metabolism of the deadliest malaria parasite.
Should we commit to eradicate malaria worldwide?
Should we commit to eradicate malaria worldwide, asks a debate article published by The BMJ today?
Investigational malaria vaccine shows considerable protection in adults in malaria season
An investigational malaria vaccine given intravenously was well-tolerated and protected a significant proportion of healthy adults against infection with Plasmodium falciparum malaria -- the deadliest form of the disease -- for the duration of the malaria season, according to new findings published in the Feb.
More Malaria News and Malaria Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...