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Acta Trop. 2003 Aug;87(3):331-40.

Spatial and temporal variations of malaria epidemic risk in Ethiopia: factors involved and implications.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Centre, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


The aim of this study was to describe spatial and temporal variations in malaria epidemic risk in Ethiopia and to examine factors involved in relation to their implications for early warning and interpretation of geographical risk models. Forty-eight epidemic episodes were identified in various areas between September 1986 and August 1993 and factors that might have led to the events investigated using health facility records and weather data. The study showed that epidemics in specific years were associated with specific geographical areas. A major epidemic in 1988 affected the highlands whereas epidemics in 1991 and 1992 affected highland-fringe areas on the escarpments of the Rift Valley and in southern and north-western parts of the country. Malaria epidemics were significantly more often preceded by a month of abnormally high minimum temperature in the preceding 3 months than based on random chance, whereas frequency of abnormally low minimum temperature prior to epidemics was significantly lower than expected. Abnormal increases of maximum temperature and rainfall had no positive association with the epidemics. A period of low incidence during previous transmission seasons might have aggravated the events, possibly due to low level of immunity in affected populations. Epidemic risk is a dynamic phenomenon with changing geographic pattern based on temporal variations in determinant factors including weather and other eco-epidemiological characteristics of areas at risk. Epidemic early warning systems should take account of non-uniform effects of these factors by space and time and thus temporal dimensions need to be considered in spatial models of epidemic risks.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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