Making use of cell phones to track calls and messages, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health have managed to create map of how malaria spreads in a country like Kenya.
According to the study published in the journal Science, the researchers tracked nearly 15 million cell phones over a period of one year and found that rather than the heavily traveled roads to the capital city, Nairobi, it were the regional routes around Lake Victoria that served as the important routes for the spread of the disease with towns along the routes seen as major hotspots for malaria.
"It was thought that both the coastal and Lake Victoria region contributed to the spread of malaria. But travel around the coast wasn't a major source for spreading the parasite. Most people who carry the parasite are asymptomatic. But when they get bitten, they transmit the parasite to other mosquitoes", lead researcher Caroline Buckee said, adding that she hoped their findings could one day be used to develop an alert systems through phones.