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Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Wolfson Fellow

Publication details for Dr Mark Booth

McCreesh, N. & Booth, M. (2014). The Effect of Simulating Different Intermediate Host Snail Species on the Link between Water Temperature and Schistosomiasis Risk. PLoS ONE 9(7): e87892.

Author(s) from Durham



A number of studies have attempted to predict the effects of climate change on schistosomiasis risk. The importance of considering different species of intermediate host snails separately has never previously been explored.


An agent-based model of water temperature and Biomphalaria pfeifferi population dynamics and Schistosoma mansoni transmission was parameterised to two additional species of snail: B. glabrata and B. alexandrina.


Simulated B. alexandrina populations had lower minimum and maximum temperatures for survival than B. pfeifferi populations (12.5–29.5°C vs. 14.0–31.5°C). B. glabrata populations survived over a smaller range of temperatures than either B. pfeifferi or B. alexandrina (17.0°C–29.5°C). Infection risk peaked at 16.5°C, 25.0°C and 19.0°C respectively when B. pfeifferi, B. glabrata and B. alexandrina were simulated. For all species, infection risk increased sharply once a minimum temperature was reached.


The results from all three species suggest that infection risk may increase dramatically with small increases in temperature in areas at or near the currents limits of schistosome transmission. The effect of small increases in temperature in areas where schistosomiasis is currently found will depend both on current temperatures and on the species of snail acting as intermediate host(s) in the area. In most areas where B. pfeifferi is the host, infection risk is likely to decrease. In cooler areas where B. glabrata is the host, infection risk may increase slightly. In cooler areas where B. alexandrina is the host, infection risk may more than double with only 2°C increase in temperature. Our results show that it is crucial to consider the species of intermediate host when attempting to predict the effects of climate change on schistosomiasis.