Projecting environmental suitable areas for malaria transmission in China under climate change scenarios

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IntroductionThe proportion of imported malaria cases in China has increased over recent years, and has presented challenges for the malaria elimination program in China. However, little is known about the geographic distribution and environmental suitability for malaria transmission under projected climate change scenarios.MethodsUsing the MaxEnt model based on malaria presence-only records, we produced environmental suitability maps and examined the relative contribution of topographic, demographic, and environmental risk factors for P. vivax and P. falciparum malaria in China.ResultsThe MaxEnt model estimated that environmental suitability areas (ESAs) for malaria cover the central, south, southwest, east and northern regions, with a slightly wider range of ESAs extending to the northeast region for P. falciparum. There was spatial agreement between the location of imported cases and area environmentally suitable for malaria transmission. The ESAs of P. vivax and P. falciparum are projected to increase in some parts of southwest, south, central, north and northeast regions in the 2030 s, 2050 s, and 2080 s, by a greater amount for P. falciparum under the RCP8.5 scenario. Temperature and NDVI values were the most influential in defining the ESAs for P. vivax, and temperature and precipitation the most influential for P. falciparum malaria.ConclusionThis study estimated that the ESA for malaria transmission in China will increase with climate change and highlights the potential establishment of further local transmission. This model should be used to support malaria control by targeting areas where interventions on malaria transmission need to be enhanced.HighlightsClimate change may form new area suitable for malaria but little is known in China.A set of environmental factors was used in MaxEnt model to identify suitable areas.A slightly wider areas extended to the northeast was projected for P. falciparum.Suitable areas are projected to increase more under RCP8.5 scenarios.Most imported cases occurred in areas suitable for malaria transmission.

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