Monday, June 13, 2011

Malaria Modeling

There are two very interesting passages in Shah's 'The Fever' that suggest modeling of malaria can have an important role

HIV-positive people are most infective to others when the levels of virus in their bodies are high...Malaria triggers such spikes. Malaria infection, by inducing HIV to replicate, increases the viral load in HIV infected people. According to mathematical models, HIV may be responsible for 980,000 episodes of malaria and malaria responsible for mare than 8,000 Hiv infections in a single district of Kenya. The global effect of the malevolent partnership has yet to be mapped

This paper is the source of this information.

Another interesting point seems to suggest that a scapegoat that is more attractive to mosquitoes than people are.
the greater availability of cow and hog flesh attracted the interest of malaria mosquitoes.Hovering between home and stable ninety-nine out of one hundred times. That bit of anopheline caprice cost Plasmodeum dearly. As cows and sheep sprouted across the English countryside, malaria transmissionground to a halt

Increasing livestock numbers has serious effects on any ecosystem. the pig under the bad scheme should not be promoted without serious analysis. Which leads to a more general problem with complex problems like malaria. I want to talk about these issues in another post. There is an interesting Ted talk on malaria here. A lot of the ideas are impractical which is another reason to talk about practicality later.

Jeffrey Sacks also talks about the important role of livestock that distract mosquitoes in the end of poverty
Another important point is that some types of mosquitoes prefer to bite people, whereas others feed off cattle. Transmitting malaria requires two consecutive human bites: the first for the mosquito to ingest the parasite and the second for the mosquito to infect another person, roughly two weeks later. If the mosquito feeds frequently on cattle rather than on people, the odds are that at least one of the bites, if not both, will be taken from cattle. In India, for example, the predominant type of anopheles tends to bite humans about one third of the time, and cattle the rest. Africa, sadly has another predominating mosquito type which prefers human biting nearly 100 per cent of the time. Mathematically, the chance that an Indian mosquito will feed off two humans in a row is about one in nine, whereas in Africa it's about one in one

While on the subject of development I thought this quote was fascinating Justin Kilcullen head of Troicaire 48:18 in the Frontline 30/05/11 here
"Development aid is what we give to the developing world because we do not give them a decent deal in trade, because we have screwed them on their debts, because the flow of resources...lets change the economic structures that keeps these people poor thats the long term answer". If the head of an aid agency does not think they are the long term answer for development then they are probably not.

For the moment I am going to examine OpenMalaria to see how it can model these issues.

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