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Climate prediction of El Niño malaria epidemics in north-west Tanzania

Jones, Andy, Wort, Ulrika Uddenfeldt, Morse, Andrew P., Hastings, Ian ORCID: and Gagnon, Alexandre S. (2007) 'Climate prediction of El Niño malaria epidemics in north-west Tanzania'. Malaria Journal, Vol 6, p. 162.

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Background: Malaria is a significant public health problem in Tanzania. Approximately 16 million
malaria cases are reported every year and 100,000 to 125,000 deaths occur. Although most of
Tanzania is endemic to malaria, epidemics occur in the highlands, notably in Kagera, a region that
was subject to widespread malaria epidemics in 1997 and 1998. This study examined the
relationship between climate and malaria incidence in Kagera with the aim of determining whether
seasonal forecasts may assist in predicting malaria epidemics.
Methods: A regression analysis was performed on retrospective malaria and climatic data during
each of the two annual malaria seasons to determine the climatic factors influencing malaria
incidence. The ability of the DEMETER seasonal forecasting system in predicting the climatic
anomalies associated with malaria epidemics was then assessed for each malaria season.
Results: It was found that malaria incidence is positively correlated with rainfall during the first
season (Oct-Mar) (R-squared = 0.73, p < 0.01). For the second season (Apr-Sep), high malaria
incidence was associated with increased rainfall, but also with high maximum temperature during
the first rainy season (multiple R-squared = 0.79, p < 0.01). The robustness of these statistical
models was tested by excluding the two epidemic years from the regression analysis. DEMETER
would have been unable to predict the heavy El Niño rains associated with the 1998 epidemic.
Nevertheless, this epidemic could still have been predicted using the temperature forecasts alone.
The 1997 epidemic could have been predicted from observed temperatures in the preceding
season, but the consideration of the rainfall forecasts would have improved the temperature-only
forecasts over the remaining years.
Conclusion: These results demonstrate the potential of a seasonal forecasting system in the
development of a malaria early warning system in Kagera region.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:
Subjects: ?? G1 ??
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WB Practice of Medicine > Medical Climatology > WB 700 Medical climatology. Geography of disease
WC Communicable Diseases > Tropical and Parasitic Diseases > WC 750 Malaria
Faculty: Department: Groups (2002 - 2012) > Molecular & Biochemical Parasitology Group
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
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Depositing User: Ms Julia Martin
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2008 12:25
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2019 11:28


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