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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2006 Sep;100(9):811-6. Epub 2006 Jan 31.

Distribution of survival times of deliberate Plasmodium falciparum infections in tertiary syphilis patients.

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Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, Swiss Tropical Institute, Socinstrasse 57, Postfach CH-4002, Basel, Switzerland.


Survival time data of Plasmodium falciparum infections from deliberate infection of human subjects with P. falciparum between 1940 and 1963 as a treatment for neurosyphilis in the USA (Georgia) have been used to test the fits of five commonly used parametric distributions for survival times using quantile-quantile plots. Our results suggest that the best fit is obtained from the Gompertz or Weibull distributions. This result has important implications for mathematical modelling of malaria, which has for the past century exclusively assumed that the duration of malaria infections has an exponential distribution. It is desirable to know the correct distribution because its shape profoundly influences the length of monitoring needed in an intervention programme for eliminating or reducing malaria.

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