Background: Environmental factors such as temperature, relative humidity and their daily variation influence a range of mosquito life history traits and hence, malaria transmission. The standard way of characterizing environmental factors with meteorological station data need not be the actual microclimates experienced by mosquitoes within local transmission settings. Methods: A year-long study was conducted in Chennai, India to characterize local temperature and relative humidity (RH). Data loggers (Hobos) were placed in a range of probable indoor and outdoor resting sites of Anopheles stephensi. Recordings were taken hourly to estimate mean temperature and RH, together with daily temperature range (DTR) and daily relative humidity range. The temperature data were used to explore the predicted variation in extrinsic incubation period (EIP) of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax between microhabitats and across the year. Results: Mean daily temperatures within the indoor settings were significantly warmer than those recorded outdoors. DTR in indoor environments was observed to be modest and ranged from 2 to 6 °C. Differences in EIP between microhabitats were most notable during the hottest summer months of April-June, with parasite development predicted to be impaired for tiled houses and overhead tanks. Overall, the prevailing warm and stable conditions suggest rapid parasite development rate regardless of where mosquitoes might rest. Taking account of seasonal and local environmental variation, the predicted EIP of P. falciparum varied from a minimum of 9.1 days to a maximum of 15.3 days, while the EIP of P. vivax varied from 8.0 to 24.3 days. Conclusions: This study provides a detailed picture of the actual microclimates experienced by mosquitoes in an urban slum malaria setting. The data indicate differences between microhabitats that could impact mosquito and parasite life history traits. The predicted effects for EIP are often relatively subtle, but variation between minimum and maximum EIPs can play a role in disease transmission, depending on the time of year and where mosquitoes rest. Appropriate characterization of the local microclimate conditions would be the key to fully understand the effects of environment on local transmission ecology.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases