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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The risks of malaria infection in Kenya in 2009

Abdisalan M Noor12*, Peter W Gething3, Victor A Alegana1, Anand P Patil3, Simon I Hay13, Eric Muchiri4, Elizabeth Juma5 and Robert W Snow12

Author Affiliations

1 Malaria Public Health and Epidemiology Group, Centre for Geographic Medicine, KEMRI - University of Oxford - Wellcome Trust Collaborative Programme, Kenyatta National Hospital Grounds (behind NASCOP), P.O. Box 43640-00100, Nairobi, Kenya

2 Centre for Tropical Medicine, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, CCVTM, Oxford OX3 7LJ, UK

3 Spatial Ecology and Epidemiology Group, Tinbergen Building, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK

4 Division of Vector-Borne and Neglected Diseases, Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, P.O Box 20750, 00100 GPO, Nairobi, Kenya

5 Division of Malaria Control, Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, P.O Box 19982, 00202 KNH, Nairobi, Kenya

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:180  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-180

Published: 20 November 2009

Abstract

Background

To design an effective strategy for the control of malaria requires a map of infection and disease risks to select appropriate suites of interventions. Advances in model based geo-statistics and malaria parasite prevalence data assemblies provide unique opportunities to redefine national Plasmodium falciparum risk distributions. Here we present a new map of malaria risk for Kenya in 2009.

Methods

Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate data were assembled from cross-sectional community based surveys undertaken from 1975 to 2009. Details recorded for each survey included the month and year of the survey, sample size, positivity and the age ranges of sampled population. Data were corrected to a standard age-range of two to less than 10 years (PfPR2-10) and each survey location was geo-positioned using national and on-line digital settlement maps. Ecological and climate covariates were matched to each PfPR2-10 survey location and examined separately and in combination for relationships to PfPR2-10. Significant covariates were then included in a Bayesian geostatistical spatial-temporal framework to predict continuous and categorical maps of mean PfPR2-10 at a 1 × 1 km resolution across Kenya for the year 2009. Model hold-out data were used to test the predictive accuracy of the mapped surfaces and distributions of the posterior uncertainty were mapped.

Results

A total of 2,682 estimates of PfPR2-10 from surveys undertaken at 2,095 sites between 1975 and 2009 were selected for inclusion in the geo-statistical modeling. The covariates selected for prediction were urbanization; maximum temperature; precipitation; enhanced vegetation index; and distance to main water bodies. The final Bayesian geo-statistical model had a high predictive accuracy with mean error of -0.15% PfPR2-10; mean absolute error of 0.38% PfPR2-10; and linear correlation between observed and predicted PfPR2-10 of 0.81. The majority of Kenya's 2009 population (35.2 million, 86.3%) reside in areas where predicted PfPR2-10 is less than 5%; conversely in 2009 only 4.3 million people (10.6%) lived in areas where PfPR2-10 was predicted to be ≥40% and were largely located around the shores of Lake Victoria.

Conclusion

Model based geo-statistical methods can be used to interpolate malaria risks in Kenya with precision and our model shows that the majority of Kenyans live in areas of very low P. falciparum risk. As malaria interventions go to scale effectively tracking epidemiological changes of risk demands a rigorous effort to document infection prevalence in time and space to remodel risks and redefine intervention priorities over the next 10-15 years.