A validated agent-based model to study the spatial and temporal heterogeneities of malaria incidence in the rainforest environment

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Abstract

© 2015 Pizzitutti et al. Background: The Amazon environment has been exposed in the last decades to radical changes that have been accompanied by a remarkable rise of both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax malaria. The malaria transmission process is highly influenced by factors such as spatial and temporal heterogeneities of the environment and individual-based characteristics of mosquitoes and humans populations. All these determinant factors can be simulated effectively trough agent-based models. Methods: This paper presents a validated agent-based model of local-scale malaria transmission. The model reproduces the environment of a typical riverine village in the northern Peruvian Amazon, where the malaria transmission is highly seasonal and apparently associated with flooding of large areas caused by the neighbouring river. Agents representing humans, mosquitoes and the two species of Plasmodium (P. falciparum and P. vivax) are simulated in a spatially explicit representation of the environment around the village. The model environment includes: climate, people houses positions and elevation. A representation of changes in the mosquito breeding areas extension caused by the river flooding is also included in the simulation environment. Results: A calibration process was carried out to reproduce the variations of the malaria monthly incidence over a period of 3 years. The calibrated model is also able to reproduce the spatial heterogeneities of local scale malaria transmission. A "what if" eradication strategy scenario is proposed: if the mosquito breeding sites are eliminated through mosquito larva habitat management in a buffer area extended at least 200m around the village, the malaria transmission is eradicated from the village. Conclusions: The use of agent-based models can reproduce effectively the spatiotemporal variations of the malaria transmission in a low endemicity environment dominated by river floodings like in the Amazon.

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Pizzitutti, F., Pan, W., Barbieri, A., Miranda, J. J., Feingold, B., Guedes, G. R., … Mena, C. F. (2015). A validated agent-based model to study the spatial and temporal heterogeneities of malaria incidence in the rainforest environment. Malaria Journal, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12936-015-1030-7

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