Improving Malaria ‘Early Warning’ Predictive Models: A Proof-of-Concept using Archaeo-historic and Climate Data
2016 Faculty Seed Grant
Krish Seetah and interdisciplinary collaborators Rob Dunbar (Earth System Sciences) and Aleks Pluskowski (Archaeology, Reading University), take a novel approach to malaria control, aimed at developing a more precise understanding of the relationship between the malaria parasite, mosquitoes, humans, and the environment. The project uses terrestrial cores and coral cores to correlate information found in the sediment with archaeological and historical evidence on human populations. Terrestrial cores provide evidence on temperature, rainfall, humidity, land-cover change, and other determinants of mosquito distribution. They also contain mosquito egg casings, allowing researchers to estimate the prevalence of mosquitos.
The researchers correlate these sediment data with historical data on climate, malaria epidemics, mosquitoes, and human response to the disease. Archaeological information gives precise timing for malaria infections in humans. Coral cores contain both dating and weather information that bridge the other two data sources. This allows researchers to link climate and other factors to past malaria epidemics, in order to potentially alleviate the disease burden to descendants of a population in a high-risk malaria area.