Predicting Malaria Outbreaks will help India prepare for them
Researchers have developed a model that allows malaria epidemics in arid northwest India to be predicted four months in advance, helping authorities prepare for them much earlier than before.
The seasonal malaria outbreaks in the region are known to be driven by higher rainfall, which allows the mosquitoes that transmit the disease to breed, and can currently be forecasted up to around a month in advance.
But a study published today (3 March) in Nature Climate Change has found a strong association between malaria outbreaks in the desert fringe of northwest India and sea surface temperatures in the tropical South Atlantic Ocean.
The team of researchers from India, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States correlated data on malaria epidemics and sea surface temperatures from 1985 to 2010.
They showed that rises in malaria incidence in northwest India in October and November tended to be preceded by lower sea surface temperatures in the tropical South Atlantic in June and July.
"The variation in the size of malaria epidemics across different years showed an association with sea surface temperature in a somewhat unexpected part of the oceans," Mercedes Pascual, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan, and one of the study authors, tells SciDev.Net.
Mosquito photo via Shutterstock.
Read more at ENN Affiliate, SciDevNet.