Modeling climate-dependent population dynamics of mosquitoes to guide public health policies

TitleModeling climate-dependent population dynamics of mosquitoes to guide public health policies
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsVaidya A, Bravo-Salgado AD, Mikler AR
Refereed DesignationRefereed
Conference NameProceedings of the 5th ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, and Health Informatics
ISBN Number978-1-4503-2894-4
Keywordsclimate, environment, Epidemic, health, life-cycle, model, mosquito, policy, population, temperature

More than 2.5 billion people, over 40 percent of the global population, live in areas with a high risk of contracting dengue fever, a fatal disease, spread by the mosquito Aedes aegypti. Due to global warming, the spread of dengue is increasing, and outbreaks have recently occurred in the United States from Texas to Florida. Since no vaccine is available, prevention of disease is key to controlling outbreaks. This study introduces a mathematical, compartmental model to forecast the population dynamics of a mosquito and its life cycle in relation to seasonal variations of temperature and rainfall. Populations within the compartments were expressed in the form of a system of coupled differential equations (DEs), which describe changes in the mosquito population through processes of maturation and mortality. Maturation and mortality rates at various temperatures were estimated by regressing published data. The correlated rates with temperature were used in the model to numerically solve the DEs. Variations in the mosquito populations due to seasonal temperature variations were predicted for Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and Dallas, and they matched actual mosquito trap data. Mosquitoes require stagnant water to lay eggs and reproduce, so integrating rainfall as a determining factor of growth in the model was a natural extension. This was included by varying the carrying capacity of the model with rainfall, further improving accuracy. This model is sufficiently flexible to be used with other mosquito species, such as Culex and Anopheles that spread west nile virus and malaria. With climate change being shown to increase rainfall in parts of the world while raising temperatures, this model can be used to predict effects of newer weather patterns on the spread of mosquitoes and, by modeling the vectors, any diseases they spread, thus guiding health policies.