Malaria in the Amazon: An Agent-Based Approach to Epidemiological Modeling of Coupled Systems
King, Joshua Michael Lloyd
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The epidemiology of malaria considers a complex set of local interactions amongst host, vector, and environment. A history of reemergence, epidemic transition, and ensuing endemic transmission in Iquitos, Peru reveals an interesting case used to model and explore such interactions. In this region of the Peruvian Amazon, climate change, development initiatives and landscape fragmentation are amongst a unique set of local spatial variables underlying the endemicity of malaria. Traditional population-based approaches lack the ability to resolve the spatial influences of these variables. Presented is a framework for spatially explicit, agent-based modeling of malaria transmission dynamics in Iquitos and surrounding areas. The use of an agent-based model presents a new opportunity to spatially define causal factors and influences of transmission between mosquito vectors and human hosts. In addition to spatial considerations, the ability to model individual decisions of humans can define socio-economic and human-environment interactions related to malaria transmission. Three interacting sub-models representing human decisions, vector dynamics, and environmental factors comprise the model. Feedbacks between the interacting sub-models define individual decisions and ultimately the flexibility that will allow the model to function in a diagnostic capacity. Sensitivity analysis and simulated interactions are used to discuss this diagnostic capability and to build understanding of the physical systems driving local transmission of malaria.