Malaria study goes to the desert
Scientists studying malaria-carrying mosquitoes and the effects of the disease on people are about to undertake a unique experiment in West Africa.
The researchers plan to examine the factors in climate variation that can affect disease epidemics. They have built an indoor experimental lab in the guise of a specially constructed traditional African thatched hut, to replicate conditions that many people live in. Located in the Sahel region of Niger, the hut is equipped with instruments to study the temperature, humidity, soil conditions and other factors that affect the behaviour of the mosquitoes.
The project team involves scientists from the Universities of Leeds and Liverpool, and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Funding has been provided by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Dr Andy Morse from the University of Liverpool, who is leading the malaria project says: “Predicting the West African monsoon and its likely effects is more difficult than, for example, relating rainfall patterns to malaria in Southern Africa. By assessing local climate factors that lead to increased disease risk, and looking at long range meteorological forecasts for the region from global models, we can contribute to the eventual creation of a malaria model that predicts likely epidemics - ultimately becoming a component within a disease early warning system.”
The project will help to assess the variations between seasonal malaria and its effects on people – some with natural immunity in malarial regions and others who will have no immunity to the disease due to its infrequent occurrence where they live. In these regions variations in climate could make malaria epidemics more common.
This research forms part of an EU funded project - the African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) and aims to show how the climate can affect the transmission patterns of malaria. The malaria transmission data is provided through collaboration with CERMES - a Niger based medical research centre.
Malaria is a major health and economic issue in Africa – it is a bigger killer than AIDS and more Africans die on a daily basis from malaria than any other cause, according to the World Health Foundation. Malaria kills over 1 million people each year with the majority of these being children; Child mortality rates are currently at around 30%.
By comparing information from ground based instruments and from the NERC/Met Office BAe 146 aircraft - which will make measurements in the skies above West Africa - improvements in scientific understanding will contribute to the building of a predictive model of the malaria risks for the region. Satellite images will also help the researchers to identify where the wet and humid areas, which encourage mosquitoes, will occur after rainfall.
Some of the scientists will leave for Niger next week (week commencing 22 May) to prepare for the research programme, which will run until August 2006.
Marion O’Sullivan | alfa
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...