Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Pareto rules for malaria super-spreaders and super-spreading

Cooper, Laura; Kang, Su Yun; Bisanzio, Donal; Maxwell, Kilama; Rodriguez-Barraquer, Isabel; Greenhouse, Bryan; Drakeley, Chris; Arinaitwe, Emmanuel; G. Staedke, Sarah; Gething, Peter W.; Eckhoff, Philip; Reiner, Robert C.; Hay, Simon I.; Dorsey, Grant; Kamya, Moses R.; Lindsay, Steven W.; Grenfell, Bryan T.; Smith, David L.

Pareto rules for malaria super-spreaders and super-spreading Thumbnail


Laura Cooper

Su Yun Kang

Donal Bisanzio

Kilama Maxwell

Isabel Rodriguez-Barraquer

Bryan Greenhouse

Chris Drakeley

Emmanuel Arinaitwe

Sarah G. Staedke

Peter W. Gething

Philip Eckhoff

Robert C. Reiner

Simon I. Hay

Grant Dorsey

Moses R. Kamya

Bryan T. Grenfell

David L. Smith


Heterogeneity in transmission is a challenge for infectious disease dynamics and control. An 80-20 “Pareto” rule has been proposed to describe this heterogeneity whereby 80% of transmission is accounted for by 20% of individuals, herein called super-spreaders. It is unclear, however, whether super-spreading can be attributed to certain individuals or whether it is an unpredictable and unavoidable feature of epidemics. Here, we investigate heterogeneous malaria transmission at three sites in Uganda and find that super-spreading is negatively correlated with overall malaria transmission intensity. Mosquito biting among humans is 90-10 at the lowest transmission intensities declining to less than 70-30 at the highest intensities. For super-spreaders, biting ranges from 70-30 down to 60-40. The difference, approximately half the total variance, is due to environmental stochasticity. Super-spreading is thus partly due to super-spreaders, but modest gains are expected from targeting super-spreaders.


Cooper, L., Kang, S. Y., Bisanzio, D., Maxwell, K., Rodriguez-Barraquer, I., Greenhouse, B., …Smith, D. L. (2019). Pareto rules for malaria super-spreaders and super-spreading. Nature Communications, 10(1), Article 3939.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 5, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 2, 2019
Publication Date Sep 2, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 12, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 12, 2019
Journal Nature Communications
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 1
Article Number 3939


Published Journal Article (1.6 Mb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit

You might also like

Downloadable Citations