October 12, 2012

How Cell-Phone Data Could Slow the Spread of Malaria - MIT Technology Review

Researchers have mapped precisely how human travel affects the spread of malaria in Kenya by using cell-phone location data. The effort is the largest-ever to use cell-phone data as an epidemiological tool. MIT Technology Review reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe study captured the anonymized travel habits of nearly 15 million Kenyans between June 2008 and June 2009. Their movements were gleaned from 11,920 cell towers. The data was then mapped against the incidence of malaria as recorded by health officials.

The results made clear that malaria outbreaks during that period began in Kenya's Lake Victoria region and spread east toward the capital of Nairobi. This suggests that health officials could avert transmissions by focusing their efforts in the lake region, says Caroline Buckee, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the authors of the study, which is being published today in the journal Science.

... Mosquitoes spread the malaria parasite. But infected people—particularly those who are immune and travel without feeling symptoms—can spread the disease widely if they're later bitten by mosquitoes that go on to bite other people. Malaria kills about a million people each year, most of them children under age five in sub-Saharan Africa.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article and study: QUANTIFYING THE IMPACT OF HUMAN MOBILITY ON MALARIA

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