Navigation Links
Scientists use cell phone records to predict spread of malaria
Date:12/16/2009

GAINESVILLE, Fla. University of Florida researchers at work on a malaria elimination study in Africa have become the first to predict the spread of the disease using cell phone records.

The scientists analyzed more than 21 million calls to determine how often residents of Zanzibar travel and where they go. A semi-autonomous region composed of two islands off the coast of Tanzania in East Africa, Zanzibar has drastically reduced malaria in recent years. Its government commissioned the study as part of deliberations on whether to launch a total elimination campaign.

The calls indicated that most residents who leave the region make short trips to Dar es Salaam on the Tanzanian mainland nearby, where malaria is relatively uncommon. However, they also revealed that a few Zanzibar residents travel back and forth from more distant areas of Tanzania where the risk of getting the disease is much higher posing the greatest threat to elimination.

"That group of the population is the real risk if Zanzibar wants to eliminate malaria," said Andy Tatem, an assistant professor of geography, member of UF's Emerging Pathogens Institute, and lead author of a paper on the research likely to appear in the January issue of the Malaria Journal. "That is the population group that is likely to be continually reintroducing infection."

Malaria is not transmissible from person to person. But if infected elsewhere, travelers can be bitten by mosquitoes once back in Zanzibar and those mosquitoes could then fly on to bite and infect other Zanzibar residents, forestalling elimination.

Over the past decade, Zanzibar's aggressive campaign against malaria has reduced infections from as much as 40 percent of its 1.2 million people to less than 1 percent, Tatem said. The country is weighing the cost of a campaign to eliminate the disease against the cost of continuing indefinitely with the control measures now in place. Its government commissioned what Tatem described as Africa's first "elimination feasibility study," including the travel research.

Most Zanzibar residents journey to and from mainland Tanzania via four- to six-hour ferry trips, but records of their origin and destinations are poor, Tatem said. Inspired by recent cell phone-based epidemiological research in Europe, he and five colleagues obtained records of three months of calls from customers of the Zanzibar Telephone Company, which covers all of Zanzibar and Tanzania.

The October-December 2008 records, which contained no names or other identifying information, tracked the movements of a 770,369 customers by showing each customer's calls and where the calls originated or at least the region where the call originated.

So, for example, the researchers could see that a person made calls from Zanzibar's main city of Stone Town Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but on Thursday and Friday from Dar es Salaam.

Most callers never left Zanzibar, which means they posed no threat of reintroducing the Malaria parasite, Tatem said. About 12 percent did leave the islands, but most of those only visited relatively safe Dar es Salaam, and usually for just one or two days at a time.

However, a few hundred residents made trips to regions of western and southern parts of Tanzania, where as many as 40 percent of the residents have the malaria parasite.

The cell records did not reveal any information about the threat from non-residents visiting Zanzibar. Many visitors to the historic center of the spice trade are likely to be tourists who either come from countries where malaria is not a problem or are taking anti-malarial drugs, so pose little threat for malaria importation. However, mainland residents visiting for work may carry infections, so future work will need to assess these risks too, Tatem said.

Tatem said the study gives Zanzibar's government several options should it move forward with elimination. The government could choose to give Zanzibar residents prophylactics against malaria before they travel, or it could screen all residents as they return, both very expensive propositions. Or it could launch a targeted information and/or screening campaign aimed at the high-risk travelers.

Zanzibar will use the study in combination with another study of the challenges and costs of eliminating the remaining infections within the country to make its decision.

"Going for elimination can be very expensive, much more expensive than continuing with current sustained control, involving giving people bed nets (to protect against mosquito bites at night), spraying the inside of houses with insecticide and providing anti-malarial drugs," he said. "But in the very long term the savings having no malaria may outweigh those costs."


'/>"/>

Contact: Andy Tatem
andy.tatem@gmail.com
352-219-8639
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. New prion protein discovered by Canadian scientists may offer insight into mad cow disease
2. Scientists Probe Sepsis Deadly Secrets
3. Scientists puzzled by severe allergic reaction to cancer drug in the middle Southern US
4. Scientists Develop Natural Protection for Stored Foods
5. Scientists detect presence of marburg virus in african fruit bats
6. Scientists Spot Brains Free Will Center
7. Scientists ID Likely Culprit in Popcorn Lung
8. Scientists explain how insulin secreting cells maintain their glucose sensitivity
9. Scripps Research scientists shed new light on how antibodies fight HIV
10. Scientists, physicians present latest findings in personalized cancer treatment and prevention
11. Scientists demonstate link between genetic variant and effectiveness of smoking cessation meds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... 2016 , ... TopConsumerReviews.com recently awarded their highest five-star rating to Best Buy ... in the United States and Canada wear eyeglasses. Once considered to be a purely ... make a fashion statement. Even celebrities use glasses as a way of creating an ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... ... Kasmer, a legally blind and certified personal trainer is helping to develop a weight loss ... plans to fix the two major problems leading the fitness industry today:, ... , They don’t eliminate all the reasons people quit their exercise program ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... "With 30 hand-drawn ... specific project," said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProHand ... all within Final Cut Pro X . Simply select a ProHand generator and ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... , ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional wisdom preaches ... success. In terms of the latter, setting the bar too high can result in ... than just slow progress toward their goal. , Research from PsychTests.com ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Dallas, Texas (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 ... ... 12th International Conference and Scientific Sessions in Dallas that it will receive two ... Announcement of the grants came as PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... Dublin ... of the " Global Markets for Spectroscopy Equipment" ... This report focuses on the global ... including its applications in various applications. The report deals ... three main industries: pharmaceutical and biotechnology, food and beverage, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... -- The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) today ... allow biopharmaceutical companies to more easily share health care ... coverage decisions, a move that addresses the growing need ... The recommendations address restrictions in the sharing of product ... a prohibition that hinders decision makers from accessing HCEI ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. , June 24, 2016  American ... function testing company, is now able to perform sophisticated lung assessments ... ndd Medical Technologies , Inc. Patients are no ...  Thanks to ndd,s EasyOne PRO ® , ARL patients like Jeanne ... needed testing done in the comfort of her own home. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: