Quantifying the Impact of Human Mobility on Malaria
Wesolowski A., Eagle N., Tatem AJ., Smith DL., Noor AM., Snow RW., Buckee CO.
Mobile Phone “Hot Spots” An obstacle to developing effective national malaria control programs is a lack of understanding of human movements, which are an important component of disease transmission. As mobile phones have become increasingly ubiquitous, it is now possible to collect individual-level, longitudinal data on human movements on a massive scale. Wesolowski et al. (p. 267 ) analyzed mobile phone call data records representing the travel patterns of 15 million mobile phone owners in Kenya over the course of a year. This was combined with a detailed malaria risk map, to estimate malaria parasite movements across the country that could be caused by human movement. This information enabled detailed analysis of parasite sources and sinks between hundreds of local settlements. Estimates were compared with hospital data from Nairobi to show that local pockets of transmission likely occur around the periphery of Nairobi, accounting for locally acquired cases, contrary to the accepted idea that there is no transmission in the capital.