Projecting future malaria risk in tropical Americas

Modelling of future occurrences of a mosquito strongly associated with malaria in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean suggests that high altitude areas will become increasingly at risk of the disease, due to climate change.

Data resources used via GBIF : 314 mosquito occurrence points used
Photo: Anopheles albimanus mosquito. Credit: James Gathany, CDC Public Health Image Library.

Photo: Anopheles albimanus mosquito. Credit: James Gathany, CDC Public Health Image Library.

A team from the United States and Colombia looked at the projected spread of a major malaria-carrying mosquito in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean Basin. It used more than 300 records showing locations where the mosquito was present, obtained through GBIF itself and a GBIF-funded project, Mosquito Map (www.mosquitomap.org), as well as published data from mosquito surveys in Colombia.

These points were combined with climate and topographical data to generate a model showing probability of the presence of the mosquito, under ‘near present’ (1950-2000) and future climate conditions, across the whole region.

The major conclusion was that while the mosquito is unlikely to spread much further to the north or south, it is likely to invade high-altitude regions above 2,000 metres, putting many more people at risk of malaria in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean Basin by 2080.

Citations

Fuller, D.O. et al., 2012. Near-present and future distribution of Anopheles albimanus in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean Basin modeled with climate and topographic data. International Journal of Health Geographics, 11, p.13. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1476-072X-11-13

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