Space-time variation of malaria incidence in Yunnan province, China.
Clements ACA., Barnett AG., Cheng ZW., Snow RW., Zhou HN.
BACKGROUND: Understanding spatio-temporal variation in malaria incidence provides a basis for effective disease control planning and monitoring. METHODS: Monthly surveillance data between 1991 and 2006 for Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum malaria across 128 counties were assembled for Yunnan, a province of China with one of the highest burdens of malaria. County-level Bayesian Poisson regression models of incidence were constructed, with effects for rainfall, maximum temperature and temporal trend. The model also allowed for spatial variation in county-level incidence and temporal trend, and dependence between incidence in June-September and the preceding January-February. RESULTS: Models revealed strong associations between malaria incidence and both rainfall and maximum temperature. There was a significant association between incidence in June-September and the preceding January-February. Raw standardised morbidity ratios showed a high incidence in some counties bordering Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, and counties in the Red River valley. Clusters of counties in south-western and northern Yunnan were identified that had high incidence not explained by climate. The overall trend in incidence decreased, but there was significant variation between counties. CONCLUSION: Dependence between incidence in summer and the preceding January-February suggests a role of intrinsic host-pathogen dynamics. Incidence during the summer peak might be predictable based on incidence in January-February, facilitating malaria control planning, scaled months in advance to the magnitude of the summer malaria burden. Heterogeneities in county-level temporal trends suggest that reductions in the burden of malaria have been unevenly distributed throughout the province.