The historical distribution of main malaria foci in Spain as related to water bodies
The possible connectivity between the spatial distribution of water bodies suitable for vectors of malaria and endemic malaria foci in Southern Europe is still not well known. Spain was one of the last countries in Western Europe to be declared free of malaria by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1964. This study combines, by means of a spatial-temporal analysis, the historical data of patients and deceased with the distribution of water bodies where the disease-transmitting mosquitos proliferate. Therefore, data from historical archives with a Geographic Information System (GIS), using the Inverse Distance Weighted (IDW) interpolation method, was analyzed with the aim of identifying regional differences in the distribution of malaria in Spain. The reasons, why the risk of transmission is concentrated in specific regions, are related to worse socioeconomic conditions (Extremadura), the presence of another vector (Anopheles labranchiae) besides A. atroparvus (Levante) or large areas of water bodies in conditions to reproduce theses vectors (La Mancha and Western Andalusia). In the particular case of Western Andalusia, in 1913, the relatively high percentage of 4.73% of the surface, equal to 202362 ha, corresponds to wetlands and other unhealthy water bodies. These wetlands have been reduced as a result of desiccation policies and climate change such as the Little Ice Age and Global Climate Change. The comprehension of the main factors of these wetland changes in the past can help us interpret accurately the future risk of malaria re-emergence in temperate latitudes, since it reveals the crucial role of unhealthy water bodies on the distribution, endemicity and eradication of malaria in southern Europe.