(RxWiki News) Mathematical models are proving to be effective in the fight against malaria, a parasitic disease that currently claims around one million lives every year.
Malaria is a serious disease caused by a parasite and spread by mosquitos. Between 190 and 311 million people get infected every year and nearly one million people die annually from the disease.
In the United States, there are roughly 1,500 cases every year -- mostly in travelers and immigrants from countries where it is still prevalent. The areas most heavily affected are Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Malaria is the fifth leading cause of death by infectious disease in the world, but it is treatable.
The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) is on the cutting edge of developing mathematical strategies to understand transmission and control of malaria. The number of cases and deaths attributed to malaria dropped between 2006 and 2008. This change is attributed to increased funding for worldwide research and healthcare, chemically treated mosquito bed-netting and residential insecticide spraying.
At the same time, global climate change, decreasing financial flow and the parasite's resistance to drugs are posing a serious problem. Mathematical models have proven useful in learning how malaria spreads and how to better contain it. The NIMBioS is holding an important workshop in the summer of 2011 to discuss new approaches to eradicating malaria.
New mathematical models need to figure in how the climate is changing, potential new vaccines and the economic effect of malaria on heavily-affected nations.
The Malaria Modeling and Control workshop will be held June 15-17 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.