Open-Source 3D Printable GPS Tracker to Characterize the Role of Human Population Movement on Malaria Epidemiology in River Networks: A Proof-of-Concept Study in the Peruvian Amazon

Front Public Health. 2020 Sep 24:8:526468. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.526468. eCollection 2020.


Human movement affects malaria epidemiology at multiple geographical levels; however, few studies measure the role of human movement in the Amazon Region due to the challenging conditions and cost of movement tracking technologies. We developed an open-source low-cost 3D printable GPS-tracker and used this technology in a cohort study to characterize the role of human population movement in malaria epidemiology in a rural riverine village in the Peruvian Amazon. In this pilot study of 20 participants (mean age = 40 years old), 45,980 GPS coordinates were recorded over 1 month. Characteristic movement patterns were observed relative to the infection status and occupation of the participants. Applying two analytical animal movement ecology methods, utilization distributions (UDs) and integrated step selection functions (iSSF), we showed contrasting environmental selection and space use patterns according to infection status. These data suggested an important role of human movement in the epidemiology of malaria in the Peruvian Amazon due to high connectivity between villages of the same riverine network, suggesting limitations of current community-based control strategies. We additionally demonstrate the utility of this low-cost technology with movement ecology analysis to characterize human movement in resource-poor environments.

Keywords: Amazon; asymptomatic malaria; connectivity; human movement; malaria; movement ecology; networks; open-source.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Malaria* / epidemiology
  • Peru / epidemiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Rivers*