Parasitology

Research Article

Spatial parasite ecology and epidemiology: a review of methods and applications

RACHEL L. PULLANa1 c1, HUGH J. W. STURROCKa1, RICARDO J. SOARES MAGALHÃESa2, ARCHIE C. A. CLEMENTSa2 and SIMON J. BROOKERa1a3

a1 Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

a2 School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland, Australia

a3 Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Nairobi, Kenya

SUMMARY

The distributions of parasitic diseases are determined by complex factors, including many that are distributed in space. A variety of statistical methods are now readily accessible to researchers providing opportunities for describing and ultimately understanding and predicting spatial distributions. This review provides an overview of the spatial statistical methods available to parasitologists, ecologists and epidemiologists and discusses how such methods have yielded new insights into the ecology and epidemiology of infection and disease. The review is structured according to the three major branches of spatial statistics: continuous spatial variation; discrete spatial variation; and spatial point processes.

(Received January 13 2012)

(Revised March 11 2012)

(Accepted April 03 2012)

(Online publication July 19 2012)

Key words

  • Spatial epidemiology;
  • parasites;
  • spatial statistics;
  • geostatistics;
  • mapping

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: Dr Rachel Pullan. E-mail: rachel.pullan@lshtm.ac.uk

Metrics