Prevalence, incidence, asexual parasite and gametocyte densities, and infectiousness measurements from eight study sites in sub-Saharan Africa were used to calibrate an individual-based model with innate and adaptive immunity. Data from the Garki Project was used to fit exposure rates and parasite densities with month-resolution. A model capturing Garki seasonality and seasonal heterogeneity of exposure was used as a framework for characterizing the infectious reservoir of malaria, testing optimal timing of indoor residual spraying, and comparing four possible mass drug campaign implementations for malaria control.
Malaria transmission is both seasonal and heterogeneous, and mathematical models that seek to predict the effects of possible intervention strategies should accurately capture realistic seasonality of vector abundance, seasonal dynamics of within-host effects, and heterogeneity of exposure, which may also vary seasonally.
Accounting for heterogeneity and seasonality in malaria transmission is critical for understanding transmission dynamics and predicting optimal timing and targeting of control and elimination interventions.
Seasonality as observed in Garki sites is neither sinusoidal nor box-like, and substantial heterogeneity in exposure arises from dry-season biting. Individuals with dry-season exposure likely account for the bulk of the infectious reservoir during the dry season even when they are a minority in the overall population. Spray campaigns offer the most benefit in prevalence reduction when implemented just prior to peak vector abundance, which may occur as late as a couple months into the wet season, and targeting spraying to homes of individuals with dry-season exposure can be particularly effective. Expanding seasonal malaria chemoprevention programs to cover older children is predicted to increase the number of cases averted per treatment and is therefore recommended for settings of seasonal and intense transmission.