Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (93)

Clipboard (0)

Select a Filter Below

more »
Year of Publication
more »
1.  Mapping the zoonotic niche of Ebola virus disease in Africa 
eLife  2014;3:e04395.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a complex zoonosis that is highly virulent in humans. The largest recorded outbreak of EVD is ongoing in West Africa, outside of its previously reported and predicted niche. We assembled location data on all recorded zoonotic transmission to humans and Ebola virus infection in bats and primates (1976–2014). Using species distribution models, these occurrence data were paired with environmental covariates to predict a zoonotic transmission niche covering 22 countries across Central and West Africa. Vegetation, elevation, temperature, evapotranspiration, and suspected reservoir bat distributions define this relationship. At-risk areas are inhabited by 22 million people; however, the rarity of human outbreaks emphasises the very low probability of transmission to humans. Increasing population sizes and international connectivity by air since the first detection of EVD in 1976 suggest that the dynamics of human-to-human secondary transmission in contemporary outbreaks will be very different to those of the past.
eLife digest
Since the first outbreaks of Ebola virus disease in 1976, there have been numerous other outbreaks in humans across Africa with fatality rates ranging from 50% to 90%. Humans can become infected with the Ebola virus after direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from an infected person or animal. The virus also infects and kills other primates—such as chimpanzees or gorillas—though Old World fruit bats are suspected to be the most likely carriers of the virus in the wild.
The largest recorded outbreak of Ebola virus disease is ongoing in West Africa: more people have been infected in this current outbreak than in all previous outbreaks combined. The current outbreak is also the first to occur in West Africa—which is outside the previously known range of the Ebola virus.
Pigott et al. have now updated predictions about where in Africa wild animals may harbour the virus and where the transmission of the virus from these animals to humans is possible. As such, the map identifies the regions that are most at risk of a future Ebola outbreak. The data behind these new maps include the locations of all recorded primary cases of Ebola in human populations—the ‘index’ cases—many of which have been linked to animal sources. The data also include the locations of recorded cases of Ebola virus infections in wild bats and primates from the last forty years. The maps, which were modelled using more flexible methods than previous predictions, also include new information—collected using satellites—about environmental factors and new predictions of the range of wild fruit bats.
Pigott et al. report that the transmission of Ebola virus from animals to humans is possible in 22 countries across Central and West Africa—and that 22 million people live in the areas at risk. However, outbreaks in human populations are rare and the likelihood of a human getting the disease from an infected animal still remains very low. The updated map does not include data about how infections spread from one person to another, so the next challenge is to use existing data on human-to-human transmission to better understand the likely size and extent of current and future outbreaks. As more people live in, and travel to and from, the at-risk regions than ever before, Pigott et al. note that new outbreaks of Ebola virus disease are likely to be very different to those of the past.
PMCID: PMC4166725  PMID: 25201877
Ebola; species distribution modelling; boosted regression trees; disease mapping; Ebola virus; niche based modelling; human; viruses
2.  The early spread and epidemic ignition of HIV-1 in human populations 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2014;346(6205):56-61.
Thirty years after the discovery of HIV-1, the early transmission, dissemination, and establishment of the virus in human populations remain unclear. Using statistical approaches applied to HIV-1 sequence data from central Africa, we show that from the 1920s Kinshasa (in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo) was the focus of early transmission and the source of pre-1960 pandemic viruses elsewhere. Location and dating estimates were validated using the earliest HIV-1 archival sample, also from Kinshasa. The epidemic histories of HIV-1 group M and nonpandemic group O were similar until ~1960, after which group M underwent an epidemiological transition and outpaced regional population growth. Our results reconstruct the early dynamics of HIV-1 and emphasize the role of social changes and transport networks in the establishment of this virus in human populations.
PMCID: PMC4254776  PMID: 25278604
3.  Associations between urbanicity and malaria at local scales in Uganda 
Malaria Journal  2015;14:374.
Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to show the greatest rates of urbanization over the next 50 years. Urbanization has shown a substantial impact in reducing malaria transmission due to multiple factors, including unfavourable habitats for Anopheles mosquitoes, generally healthier human populations, better access to healthcare, and higher housing standards. Statistical relationships have been explored at global and local scales, but generally only examining the effects of urbanization on single malaria metrics. In this study, associations between multiple measures of urbanization and a variety of malaria metrics were estimated at local scales.
Cohorts of children and adults from 100 households across each of three contrasting sub-counties of Uganda (Walukuba, Nagongera and Kihihi) were followed for 24 months. Measures of urbanicity included density of surrounding households, vegetation index, satellite-derived night-time lights, land cover, and a composite urbanicity score. Malaria metrics included the household density of mosquitoes (number of female Anopheles mosquitoes captured), parasite prevalence and malaria incidence. Associations between measures of urbanicity and malaria metrics were made using negative binomial and logistic regression models.
One site (Walukuba) had significantly higher urbanicity measures compared to the two rural sites. In Walukuba, all individual measures of higher urbanicity were significantly associated with a lower household density of mosquitoes. The higher composite urbanicity score in Walukuba was also associated with a lower household density of mosquitoes (incidence rate ratio = 0.28, 95 % CI 0.17–0.48, p < 0.001) and a lower parasite prevalence (odds ratio, OR = 0.44, CI 0.20–0.97, p = 0.04). In one rural site (Kihihi), only a higher density of surrounding households was associated with a lower parasite prevalence (OR = 0.15, CI 0.07–0.34, p < 0.001). And, in only one rural site (Nagongera) was living where NDVI ≤0.45 associated with higher incidence of malaria (IRR = 1.35, CI 1.35–1.70, p = 0.01).
Urbanicity has been shown previously to lead to a reduction in malaria transmission at large spatial scales. At finer scales, individual household measures of higher urbanicity were associated with lower mosquito densities and parasite prevalence only in the site that was generally characterized as being urban. The approaches outlined here can help better characterize urbanicity at the household level and improve targeting of control interventions.
PMCID: PMC4587721  PMID: 26415959
Urbanization; Plasmodium falciparum; Remote sensing; GIS; Urban malaria
4.  Mapping the denominator: spatial demography in the measurement of progress 
International Health  2014;6(3):153-155.
Measuring progress towards international health goals requires a reliable baseline from which to measure change and recent methodological advancements have advanced our abilities to measure, model and map the prevalence of health issues using sophisticated tools. The provision of burden estimates generally requires linking these estimates with spatial demographic data, but for many resource-poor countries data on total population sizes, distributions, compositions and temporal trends are lacking, prompting a reliance on uncertain estimates. Modern technologies and data archives are offering solutions, but the huge range of uncertainties that exist today in spatial denominator datasets will still be around for many years to come.
PMCID: PMC4161992  PMID: 25125576
Burden estimation; Census; Demography; Health metrics; Mapping; Population
5.  Evaluating Spatial Interaction Models for Regional Mobility in Sub-Saharan Africa 
PLoS Computational Biology  2015;11(7):e1004267.
Simple spatial interaction models of human mobility based on physical laws have been used extensively in the social, biological, and physical sciences, and in the study of the human dynamics underlying the spread of disease. Recent analyses of commuting patterns and travel behavior in high-income countries have led to the suggestion that these models are highly generalizable, and as a result, gravity and radiation models have become standard tools for describing population mobility dynamics for infectious disease epidemiology. Communities in Sub-Saharan Africa may not conform to these models, however; physical accessibility, availability of transport, and cost of travel between locations may be variable and severely constrained compared to high-income settings, informal labor movements rather than regular commuting patterns are often the norm, and the rise of mega-cities across the continent has important implications for travel between rural and urban areas. Here, we first review how infectious disease frameworks incorporate human mobility on different spatial scales and use anonymous mobile phone data from nearly 15 million individuals to analyze the spatiotemporal dynamics of the Kenyan population. We find that gravity and radiation models fail in systematic ways to capture human mobility measured by mobile phones; both severely overestimate the spatial spread of travel and perform poorly in rural areas, but each exhibits different characteristic patterns of failure with respect to routes and volumes of travel. Thus, infectious disease frameworks that rely on spatial interaction models are likely to misrepresent population dynamics important for the spread of disease in many African populations.
Author Summary
Human mobility underlies many social, biological, and physical phenomena, including the spread of infectious diseases. Analyses in high-income countries have led to the notion that populations obey universal rules of mobility that are effectively captured by spatial interaction models. However, communities in Africa may not conform to these rules since the availability of transport and geographic barriers may impose different constraints compared to high-income settings. We use anonymous mobile phone data from ~15 million subscribers to quantify different spatial and temporal scales of mobility within Kenya and test their performance with respect to this measurement of human travel. We find that standard models systematically fail to describe regional mobility in Kenya, with poor performance in rural areas. Epidemiological models that rely on these frameworks may therefore fail to capture important aspects of population dynamics driving disease spread in many African populations.
PMCID: PMC4497594  PMID: 26158274
7.  The geography of maternal and newborn health: the state of the art 
As the deadline for the millennium development goals approaches, it has become clear that the goals linked to maternal and newborn health are the least likely to be achieved by 2015. It is therefore critical to ensure that all possible data, tools and methods are fully exploited to help address this gap. Among the methods that are under-used, mapping has always represented a powerful way to ‘tell the story’ of a health problem in an easily understood way. In addition to this, the advanced analytical methods and models now being embedded into Geographic Information Systems allow a more in-depth analysis of the causes behind adverse maternal and newborn health (MNH) outcomes. This paper examines the current state of the art in mapping the geography of MNH as a starting point to unleashing the potential of these under-used approaches. Using a rapid literature review and the description of the work currently in progress, this paper allows the identification of methods in use and describes a framework for methodological approaches to inform improved decision-making. The paper is aimed at health metrics and geography of health specialists, the MNH community, as well as policy-makers in developing countries and international donor agencies.
PMCID: PMC4453214  PMID: 26014352
Maternal health; Newborn health; Geography; GIS; Inequalities; Millennium development goals
8.  The changing epidemiology of dengue in China, 1990-2014: a descriptive analysis of 25 years of nationwide surveillance data 
BMC Medicine  2015;13:100.
Dengue has been a notifiable disease in China since 1 September 1989. Cases have been reported each year during the past 25 years of dramatic socio-economic changes in China, and reached a historical high in 2014. This study describes the changing epidemiology of dengue in China during this period, to identify high-risk areas and seasons and to inform dengue prevention and control activities.
We describe the incidence and distribution of dengue in mainland China using notifiable surveillance data from 1990-2014, which includes classification of imported and indigenous cases from 2005-2014.
From 1990-2014, 69,321 cases of dengue including 11 deaths were reported in mainland China, equating to 2.2 cases per one million residents. The highest number was recorded in 2014 (47,056 cases). The number of provinces affected has increased, from a median of three provinces per year (range: 1 to 5 provinces) during 1990-2000 to a median of 14.5 provinces per year (range: 5 to 26 provinces) during 2001-2014. During 2005-2014, imported cases were reported almost every month and 28 provinces (90.3%) were affected. However, 99.8% of indigenous cases occurred between July and November. The regions reporting indigenous cases have expanded from the coastal provinces of southern China and provinces adjacent to Southeast Asia to the central part of China. Dengue virus serotypes 1, 2, 3, and 4 were all detected from 2009-2014.
In China, the area affected by dengue has expanded since 2000 and the incidence has increased steadily since 2012, for both imported and indigenous dengue. Surveillance and control strategies should be adjusted to account for these changes, and further research should explore the drivers of these trends.
Please see related article:
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0336-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4431043  PMID: 25925417
Dengue; China; Import; Indigenous; Epidemiology; Outbreak
9.  Mapping population and pathogen movements 
International Health  2014;6(1):5-11.
For most of human history, populations have been relatively isolated from each other, and only recently has there been extensive contact between peoples, flora and fauna from both old and new worlds. The reach, volume and speed of modern travel are unprecedented, with human mobility increasing in high income countries by over 1000-fold since 1800. This growth is putting people at risk from the emergence of new strains of familiar diseases, and from completely new diseases, while ever more cases of the movement of both disease vectors and the diseases they carry are being seen. Pathogens and their vectors can now move further, faster and in greater numbers than ever before. Equally however, we now have access to the most detailed and comprehensive datasets on human mobility and pathogen distributions ever assembled, in order to combat these threats. This short review paper provides an overview of these datasets, with a particular focus on low income regions, and covers briefly approaches used to combine them to help us understand and control some of the negative effects of population and pathogen movements.
PMCID: PMC3989868  PMID: 24480992
Disease; Migration; Mobility; Modelling; Travel
10.  Adult vector control, mosquito ecology and malaria transmission 
International Health  2015;7(2):121-129.
Standard advice regarding vector control is to prefer interventions that reduce the lifespan of adult mosquitoes. The basis for this advice is a decades-old sensitivity analysis of ‘vectorial capacity’, a concept relevant for most malaria transmission models and based solely on adult mosquito population dynamics. Recent advances in micro-simulation models offer an opportunity to expand the theory of vectorial capacity to include both adult and juvenile mosquito stages in the model.
In this study we revisit arguments about transmission and its sensitivity to mosquito bionomic parameters using an elasticity analysis of developed formulations of vectorial capacity.
We show that reducing adult survival has effects on both adult and juvenile population size, which are significant for transmission and not accounted for in traditional formulations of vectorial capacity. The elasticity of these effects is dependent on various mosquito population parameters, which we explore. Overall, control is most sensitive to methods that affect adult mosquito mortality rates, followed by blood feeding frequency, human blood feeding habit, and lastly, to adult mosquito population density.
These results emphasise more strongly than ever the sensitivity of transmission to adult mosquito mortality, but also suggest the high potential of combinations of interventions including larval source management. This must be done with caution, however, as policy requires a more careful consideration of costs, operational difficulties and policy goals in relation to baseline transmission.
PMCID: PMC4357799  PMID: 25733562
Larval control; Malaria control policy; Micro-simulation models; Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium vivax; Vectorial capacity
11.  Remotely measuring populations during a crisis by overlaying two data sources 
International Health  2015;7(2):90-98.
Societal instability and crises can cause rapid, large-scale movements. These movements are poorly understood and difficult to measure but strongly impact health. Data on these movements are important for planning response efforts. We retrospectively analyzed movement patterns surrounding a 2010 humanitarian crisis caused by internal political conflict in Côte d'Ivoire using two different methods.
We used two remote measures, nighttime lights satellite imagery and anonymized mobile phone call detail records, to assess average population sizes as well as dynamic population changes. These data sources detect movements across different spatial and temporal scales.
The two data sources showed strong agreement in average measures of population sizes. Because the spatiotemporal resolution of the data sources differed, we were able to obtain measurements on long- and short-term dynamic elements of populations at different points throughout the crisis.
Using complementary, remote data sources to measure movement shows promise for future use in humanitarian crises. We conclude with challenges of remotely measuring movement and provide suggestions for future research and methodological developments.
PMCID: PMC4357797  PMID: 25733558
Crisis; Mobile phones; Movement; Population density; Satellite imagery
12.  Digital methods in epidemiology can transform disease control 
International Health  2015;7(2):77-78.
PMCID: PMC4379987  PMID: 25733554
Epidemiology; Genomics; GPS; Modelling; Phylogeography
13.  Estimating Drivers of Autochthonous Transmission of Chikungunya Virus in its Invasion of the Americas 
PLoS Currents  2015;7:ecurrents.outbreaks.a4c7b6ac10e0420b1788c9767946d1fc.
Background Chikungunya is an emerging arbovirus that has caused explosive outbreaks in Africa and Asia for decades and invaded the Americas just over a year ago. During this ongoing invasion, it has spread to 45 countries where it has been transmitted autochthonously, infecting nearly 1.3 million people in total. Methods Here, we made use of weekly, country-level case reports to infer relationships between transmission and two putative climatic drivers: temperature and precipitation averaged across each country on a monthly basis. To do so, we used a TSIR model that enabled us to infer a parametric relationship between climatic drivers and transmission potential, and we applied a new method for incorporating a probabilistic description of the serial interval distribution into the TSIR framework. Results We found significant relationships between transmission and linear and quadratic terms for temperature and precipitation and a linear term for log incidence during the previous pathogen generation. The lattermost suggests that case numbers three to four weeks ago are largely predictive of current case numbers. This effect is quite nonlinear at the country level, however, due to an estimated mixing parameter of 0.74. Relationships between transmission and the climatic variables that we estimated were biologically plausible and in line with expectations. Conclusions Our analysis suggests that autochthonous transmission of Chikungunya in the Americas can be correlated successfully with putative climatic drivers, even at the coarse scale of countries and using long-term average climate data. Overall, this provides a preliminary suggestion that successfully forecasting the future trajectory of a Chikungunya outbreak and the receptivity of virgin areas may be possible. Our results also provide tentative estimates of timeframes and areas of greatest risk, and our extension of the TSIR model provides a novel tool for modeling vector-borne disease transmission.
PMCID: PMC4339250  PMID: 25737803
Aedes; arbovirus; Chikungunya; epidemic; invasion; mathematical model; mosquito; R0; seasonality; TSIR
14.  Disaggregating Census Data for Population Mapping Using Random Forests with Remotely-Sensed and Ancillary Data 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0107042.
High resolution, contemporary data on human population distributions are vital for measuring impacts of population growth, monitoring human-environment interactions and for planning and policy development. Many methods are used to disaggregate census data and predict population densities for finer scale, gridded population data sets. We present a new semi-automated dasymetric modeling approach that incorporates detailed census and ancillary data in a flexible, “Random Forest” estimation technique. We outline the combination of widely available, remotely-sensed and geospatial data that contribute to the modeled dasymetric weights and then use the Random Forest model to generate a gridded prediction of population density at ~100 m spatial resolution. This prediction layer is then used as the weighting surface to perform dasymetric redistribution of the census counts at a country level. As a case study we compare the new algorithm and its products for three countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Kenya) with other common gridded population data production methodologies. We discuss the advantages of the new method and increases over the accuracy and flexibility of those previous approaches. Finally, we outline how this algorithm will be extended to provide freely-available gridded population data sets for Africa, Asia and Latin America.
PMCID: PMC4331277  PMID: 25689585
15.  Assessment of the potential for international dissemination of Ebola virus via commercial air travel during the 2014 west African outbreak 
Lancet  2015;385(9962):29-35.
The WHO declared the 2014 west African Ebola epidemic a public health emergency of international concern in view of its potential for further international spread. Decision makers worldwide are in need of empirical data to inform and implement emergency response measures. Our aim was to assess the potential for Ebola virus to spread across international borders via commercial air travel and assess the relative efficiency of exit versus entry screening of travellers at commercial airports.
We analysed International Air Transport Association data for worldwide flight schedules between Sept 1, 2014, and Dec 31, 2014, and historic traveller flight itinerary data from 2013 to describe expected global population movements via commercial air travel out of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Coupled with Ebola virus surveillance data, we modelled the expected number of internationally exported Ebola virus infections, the potential effect of air travel restrictions, and the efficiency of airport-based traveller screening at international ports of entry and exit. We deemed individuals initiating travel from any domestic or international airport within these three countries to have possible exposure to Ebola virus. We deemed all other travellers to have no significant risk of exposure to Ebola virus.
Based on epidemic conditions and international flight restrictions to and from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone as of Sept 1, 2014 (reductions in passenger seats by 51% for Liberia, 66% for Guinea, and 85% for Sierra Leone), our model projects 2·8 travellers infected with Ebola virus departing the above three countries via commercial flights, on average, every month. 91 547 (64%) of all air travellers departing Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone had expected destinations in low-income and lower-middle-income countries. Screening international travellers departing three airports would enable health assessments of all travellers at highest risk of exposure to Ebola virus infection.
Decision makers must carefully balance the potential harms from travel restrictions imposed on countries that have Ebola virus activity against any potential reductions in risk from Ebola virus importations. Exit screening of travellers at airports in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone would be the most efficient frontier at which to assess the health status of travellers at risk of Ebola virus exposure, however, this intervention might require international support to implement effectively.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
PMCID: PMC4286618  PMID: 25458732
16.  Predicting the risk of avian influenza A H7N9 infection in live poultry markets across Asia 
Nature communications  2014;5:4116.
Two epidemic waves of an avian influenza A (H7N9) virus have so far affected China. Most human cases have been attributable to poultry exposure at live-poultry markets, where most positive isolates were sampled. The potential geographic extent of potential re-emerging epidemics is unknown, as are the factors associated with it. Using newly assembled datasets of the locations of 8,943 live-poultry markets in China and maps of environmental correlates, we develop a statistical model that accurately predicts the risk of H7N9 market infection across Asia. Local density of live-poultry markets is the most important predictor of H7N9 infection risk in markets, underscoring their key role in the spatial epidemiology of H7N9, alongside other poultry, land cover and anthropogenic predictor variables. Identification of areas in Asia with high suitability for H7N9 infection enhances our capacity to target biosurveillance and control, helping to restrict the spread of this important disease.
PMCID: PMC4061699  PMID: 24937647
17.  Global Assessment of Seasonal Potential Distribution of Mediterranean Fruit Fly, Ceratitis capitata (Diptera: Tephritidae) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e111582.
The Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) is one of the world's most economically damaging pests. It displays highly seasonal population dynamics, and the environmental conditions suitable for its abundance are not constant throughout the year in most places. An extensive literature search was performed to obtain the most comprehensive data on the historical and contemporary spatio-temporal occurrence of the pest globally. The database constructed contained 2328 unique geo-located entries on Medfly detection sites from 43 countries and nearly 500 unique localities, as well as information on hosts, life stages and capture method. Of these, 125 localities had information on the month when Medfly was recorded and these data were complemented by additional material found in comprehensive databases available online. Records from 1980 until present were used for medfly environmental niche modeling. Maximum Entropy Algorithm (MaxEnt) and a set of seasonally varying environmental covariates were used to predict the fundamental niche of the Medfly on a global scale. Three seasonal maps were also produced: January-April, May-August and September-December. Models performed significantly better than random achieving high accuracy scores, indicating a good discrimination of suitable versus unsuitable areas for the presence of the species.
PMCID: PMC4222914  PMID: 25375649
18.  Fine-scale malaria risk mapping from routine aggregated case data 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:421.
Mapping malaria risk is an integral component of efficient resource allocation. Routine health facility data are convenient to collect, but without information on the locations at which transmission occurred, their utility for predicting variation in risk at a sub-catchment level is presently unclear.
Using routinely collected health facility level case data in Swaziland between 2011–2013, and fine scale environmental and ecological variables, this study explores the use of a hierarchical Bayesian modelling framework for downscaling risk maps from health facility catchment level to a fine scale (1 km x 1 km). Fine scale predictions were validated using known household locations of cases and a random sample of points to act as pseudo-controls.
Results show that fine-scale predictions were able to discriminate between cases and pseudo-controls with an AUC value of 0.84. When scaled up to catchment level, predicted numbers of cases per health facility showed broad correspondence with observed numbers of cases with little bias, with 84 of the 101 health facilities with zero cases correctly predicted as having zero cases.
This method holds promise for helping countries in pre-elimination and elimination stages use health facility level data to produce accurate risk maps at finer scales. Further validation in other transmission settings and an evaluation of the operational value of the approach is necessary.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1475-2875-13-421) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4349235  PMID: 25366929
19.  Commentary: Containing the Ebola Outbreak - the Potential and Challenge of Mobile Network Data 
PLoS Currents  2014;6:ecurrents.outbreaks.0177e7fcf52217b8b634376e2f3efc5e.
PMCID: PMC4205120  PMID: 25642369
cellphone; disease model; disease outbreak; ebola; mobility; travel
20.  Theory and data for simulating fine-scale human movement in an urban environment 
Individual-based models of infectious disease transmission depend on accurate quantification of fine-scale patterns of human movement. Existing models of movement either pertain to overly coarse scales, simulate some aspects of movement but not others, or were designed specifically for populations in developed countries. Here, we propose a generalizable framework for simulating the locations that an individual visits, time allocation across those locations, and population-level variation therein. As a case study, we fit alternative models for each of five aspects of movement (number, distance from home and types of locations visited; frequency and duration of visits) to interview data from 157 residents of the city of Iquitos, Peru. Comparison of alternative models showed that location type and distance from home were significant determinants of the locations that individuals visited and how much time they spent there. We also found that for most locations, residents of two neighbourhoods displayed indistinguishable preferences for visiting locations at various distances, despite differing distributions of locations around those neighbourhoods. Finally, simulated patterns of time allocation matched the interview data in a number of ways, suggesting that our framework constitutes a sound basis for simulating fine-scale movement and for investigating factors that influence it.
PMCID: PMC4233749  PMID: 25142528
activity space; agent-based model; co-location and contact networks; human mobility; simulation; synthetic population
21.  Modelling spatial patterns of urban growth in Africa 
The population of Africa is predicted to double over the next 40 years, driving exceptionally high urban expansion rates that will induce significant socio-economic, environmental and health changes. In order to prepare for these changes, it is important to better understand urban growth dynamics in Africa and better predict the spatial pattern of rural-urban conversions. Previous work on urban expansion has been carried out at the city level or at the global level with a relatively coarse 5–10 km resolution. The main objective of the present paper was to develop a modelling approach at an intermediate scale in order to identify factors that influence spatial patterns of urban expansion in Africa. Boosted Regression Tree models were developed to predict the spatial pattern of rural-urban conversions in every large African city. Urban change data between circa 1990 and circa 2000 available for 20 large cities across Africa were used as training data. Results showed that the urban land in a 1 km neighbourhood and the accessibility to the city centre were the most influential variables. Results obtained were generally more accurate than results obtained using a distance-based urban expansion model and showed that the spatial pattern of small, compact and fast growing cities were easier to simulate than cities with lower population densities and a lower growth rate. The simulation method developed here will allow the production of spatially detailed urban expansion forecasts for 2020 and 2025 for Africa, data that are increasingly required by global change modellers.
PMCID: PMC4139116  PMID: 25152552
Africa; urban growth; modelling; spatial pattern; boosted regression trees
22.  Ranking of elimination feasibility between malaria-endemic countries 
Lancet  2010;376(9752):1579-1591.
Experience gained from the Global Malaria Eradication Program (1955–72) identified a set of shared technical and operational factors that enabled some countries to successfully eliminate malaria. Spatial data for these factors were assembled for all malaria-endemic countries and combined to provide an objective, relative ranking of countries by technical, operational, and combined elimination feasibility. The analysis was done separately for Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, and the limitations of the approach were discussed. The relative rankings suggested that malaria elimination would be most feasible in countries in the Americas and Asia, and least feasible in countries in central and west Africa. The results differed when feasibility was measured by technical or operational factors, highlighting the different types of challenge faced by each country. The results are not intended to be prescriptive, predictive, or to provide absolute assessments of feasibility, but they do show that spatial information is available to facilitate evidence-based assessments of the relative feasibility of malaria elimination by country that can be rapidly updated.
PMCID: PMC3044847  PMID: 21035838
23.  Quantifying cross-border movements and migrations for guiding the strategic planning of malaria control and elimination 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:169.
Identifying human and malaria parasite movements is important for control planning across all transmission intensities. Imported infections can reintroduce infections into areas previously free of infection, maintain ‘hotspots’ of transmission and import drug resistant strains, challenging national control programmes at a variety of temporal and spatial scales. Recent analyses based on mobile phone usage data have provided valuable insights into population and likely parasite movements within countries, but these data are restricted to sub-national analyses, leaving important cross-border movements neglected.
National census data were used to analyse and model cross-border migration and movement, using East Africa as an example. ‘Hotspots’ of origin-specific immigrants from neighbouring countries were identified for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Populations of origin-specific migrants were compared to distance from origin country borders and population size at destination, and regression models were developed to quantify and compare differences in migration patterns. Migration data were then combined with existing spatially-referenced malaria data to compare the relative propensity for cross-border malaria movement in the region.
The spatial patterns and processes for immigration were different between each origin and destination country pair. Hotspots of immigration, for example, were concentrated close to origin country borders for most immigrants to Tanzania, but for Kenya, a similar pattern was only seen for Tanzanian and Ugandan immigrants. Regression model fits also differed between specific migrant groups, with some migration patterns more dependent on population size at destination and distance travelled than others. With these differences between immigration patterns and processes, and heterogeneous transmission risk in East Africa and the surrounding region, propensities to import malaria infections also likely show substantial variations.
This was a first attempt to quantify and model cross-border movements relevant to malaria transmission and control. With national census available worldwide, this approach can be translated to construct a cross-border human and malaria movement evidence base for other malaria endemic countries. The outcomes of this study will feed into wider efforts to quantify and model human and malaria movements in endemic regions to facilitate improved intervention planning, resource allocation and collaborative policy decisions.
PMCID: PMC4057586  PMID: 24886389
24.  Recasting the theory of mosquito-borne pathogen transmission dynamics and control 
Mosquito-borne diseases pose some of the greatest challenges in public health, especially in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Efforts to control these diseases have been underpinned by a theoretical framework developed for malaria by Ross and Macdonald, including models, metrics for measuring transmission, and theory of control that identifies key vulnerabilities in the transmission cycle. That framework, especially Macdonald's formula for R0 and its entomological derivative, vectorial capacity, are now used to study dynamics and design interventions for many mosquito-borne diseases. A systematic review of 388 models published between 1970 and 2010 found that the vast majority adopted the Ross–Macdonald assumption of homogeneous transmission in a well-mixed population. Studies comparing models and data question these assumptions and point to the capacity to model heterogeneous, focal transmission as the most important but relatively unexplored component in current theory. Fine-scale heterogeneity causes transmission dynamics to be nonlinear, and poses problems for modeling, epidemiology and measurement. Novel mathematical approaches show how heterogeneity arises from the biology and the landscape on which the processes of mosquito biting and pathogen transmission unfold. Emerging theory focuses attention on the ecological and social context for mosquito blood feeding, the movement of both hosts and mosquitoes, and the relevant spatial scales for measuring transmission and for modeling dynamics and control.
PMCID: PMC3952634  PMID: 24591453
Dengue; Filariasis; Malaria; Mosquito-borne pathogen transmission; Vector control; West Nile virus
25.  Integrating rapid risk mapping and mobile phone call record data for strategic malaria elimination planning 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:52.
As successful malaria control programmes re-orientate towards elimination, the identification of transmission foci, targeting of attack measures to high-risk areas and management of importation risk become high priorities. When resources are limited and transmission is varying seasonally, approaches that can rapidly prioritize areas for surveillance and control can be valuable, and the most appropriate attack measure for a particular location is likely to differ depending on whether it exports or imports malaria infections.
Here, using the example of Namibia, a method for targeting of interventions using surveillance data, satellite imagery, and mobile phone call records to support elimination planning is described. One year of aggregated movement patterns for over a million people across Namibia are analyzed, and linked with case-based risk maps built on satellite imagery. By combining case-data and movement, the way human population movements connect transmission risk areas is demonstrated. Communities that were strongly connected by relatively higher levels of movement were then identified, and net export and import of travellers and infection risks by region were quantified. These maps can aid the design of targeted interventions to maximally reduce the number of cases exported to other regions while employing appropriate interventions to manage risk in places that import them.
The approaches presented can be rapidly updated and used to identify where active surveillance for both local and imported cases should be increased, which regions would benefit from coordinating efforts, and how spatially progressive elimination plans can be designed. With improvements in surveillance systems linked to improved diagnosis of malaria, detailed satellite imagery being readily available and mobile phone usage data continually being collected by network providers, the potential exists to make operational use of such valuable, complimentary and contemporary datasets on an ongoing basis in infectious disease control and elimination.
PMCID: PMC3927223  PMID: 24512144
Human mobility; Plasmodium falciparum malaria; Malaria elimination; Migration; Disease mapping; Spatial analysis; Satellite imagery; Mobile phones

Results 1-25 (93)