First global malaria map in decades shows reduced risk

February 26, 2008
Malaria Atlas Project maps malaria occurrences world-wide
The Malaria Atlas Project maps malaria occurrences world-wide.

About 35 percent of the world’s population is at risk of contracting deadly malaria, but many people are at a lower risk than previously thought, raising hope that the disease could be seriously reduced or eliminated in parts of the world.

So concludes a group of researchers, including a scientist in the University of Florida Emerging Pathogens Institute, who spent three years producing the first spatial map of global malaria risk in four decades.

The Malaria Atlas Project’s findings appear today in the online edition of the open-access medical journal, PLoS Medicine.

The Malaria Atlas Project, or MAP, found that 2.37 billion people were at risk of contracting malaria from Plasmodium faciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite for humans transmitted through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Of that number, about 1 billion people live under a much lower risk of infection than was assumed under the previous historical maps. The lower than expected risk extends across Central and South America, Asia and even parts of Africa, the continent where malaria kills the vast majority of its victims and where risk has historically been classified as universally high.

“This gives some hope of pursuing malaria elimination because the prevalence isn’t as universally high as many people suppose,” said David Smith, a UF associate professor of zoology and a co-author of the paper. “It’s reasonable to think we can reduce or interrupt transmission in many places, but the prospects for success will improve if we make plans that are based on good information about malaria’s distribution.”

The MAP effort, a collaboration between Oxford University and the Kenyan Medical Research Institute, compiled information from national health statistics, tourist travel advisories, climate, mosquito vectors and surveys of malaria infection in nearly 5,000 communities and 87 countries. The project also incorporated information about how climatic conditions affect mosquito life cycles, and thus the likelihood of active transmission.

“One of my contributions was to help standardize prevalence estimates,” Smith said.

The new map is important in part because it offers hope that malaria could be eliminated in certain areas using currently available tools, such as bed nets treated with insecticide that kills mosquitoes, the researchers said. It will also help donors and international agencies target investments in control measures where they are most likely to achieve the biggest gains.

More than 500 million cases of malaria are reported annually. Of those afflicted, about one million die; 80 percent of them are children in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Making data and maps more accessible on the worldwide web is a large part of the MAP’s philosophy of getting the science accessed, critiqued and used by a much wider range of users,” said the lead author of the paper, Carlos Guerra, of the University of Oxford.

Source: University of Florida

Explore further: Air pollution may kill more Africans than HIV/AIDS

Related Stories

Air pollution may kill more Africans than HIV/AIDS

December 19, 2017
AIDS and malaria epidemics receive much attention from international health organizations, but a sneakier killer is on the loose in Africa. Air pollution may now be the continent's number one killer, according to a forthcoming ...

Malaria elimination maps highlight progress and prospects

October 17, 2011
A new global atlas charts prospects for malaria elimination by offering the first full-color, detailed depiction of a disease now declining in many parts of the globe. The "Atlas of Malaria-Eliminating Countries" spotlights ...

With climate change, malaria risk in Africa shifts, grows: study

November 30, 2015
A larger portion of Africa is currently at high risk for malaria transmission than previously predicted, according to a new University of Florida mapping study.

A predictive risk map for the nematode parasite Mansonella perstans in Uganda

January 21, 2016
Infection with the nematode parasite Mansonella perstans is one of the most neglected of the neglected tropical diseases. Although symptoms are usually mild, the infection can cause swelling, fever, headaches and abdominal ...

New malaria maps to guide battle against the disease

January 23, 2012
A new suite of malaria maps has revealed in unprecedented detail the current global pattern of the disease, allowing researchers to see how malaria has changed over a number of years.

Cell phone data of people movement found effective way to control malaria spread

October 11, 2012
New research that combines cell phone data from 15 million people in Kenya with detailed information on the regional incidence of malaria has revealed, on the largest scale so far, how human travel patterns contribute to ...

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.