Fighting Urban Malaria with Enhanced Epidemiological Models

Eliminating malaria will require effective action against its spread in cities. As urban spaces have expanded during the past several decades, mosquitoes that have adapted to urban environments, such as Anopheles stephensi—the mosquito responsible for urban malaria across South Asia—are infecting more and more people with mosquito-borne diseases. Preparedness against urban malaria is hampered, however, by a limited understanding of how environmental factors such as temperature and humidity, as well as societal factors that increase human exposure to biting mosquitoes, interact and contribute to the emergence and spread of malaria in urban environments.

Courtney C. Murdock, Entomology, is investigating the combined effects of temperature and relative humidity on the transmission of malaria in order to improve epidemiological models of urban malaria transmission. The Murdock lab will use new data from these investigations to develop human-mosquito transmission models that predict seasonal and interannual variations in the incidence of malaria and the abundance of mosquitoes that carry it. By coupling the new data with measures of land use and urbanization, researchers will also develop a spatial model that maps environmental suitability for malaria transmission. Overlaying maps of environmental suitability with population density and socioeconomic factors will allow researchers to identify potential hot spots where risk of transmission is particularly high.

This research will generate an improved conceptual framework for the epidemiology of urban malaria that is based on mosquito biology. By predicting upcoming anomalous seasons and identifying hot spots, the spatial and temporal models developed through this research will enable targeted public health interventions.

NIH Award Number: 1R01AI153444-01

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$3.8 Million spanning 5 years