Malar J. 2023 Mar 7;22(1):82. doi: 10.1186/s12936-023-04519-0.
BACKGROUND: Carriers of persistent asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum infections constitute an infectious reservoir that maintains malaria transmission. Understanding the extent of carriage and characteristics of carriers specific to endemic areas could guide use of interventions to reduce infectious reservoir.
METHODS: In eastern Gambia, an all-age cohort from four villages was followed up from 2012 to 2016. Each year, cross-sectional surveys were conducted at the end of the malaria transmission season (January) and just before the start of the next one (June) to determine asymptomatic P. falciparum carriage. Passive case detection was conducted during each transmission season (August to January) to determine incidence of clinical malaria. Association between carriage at the end of the season and at start of the next one and the risk factors for this were assessed. Effect of carriage before start of the season on risk of clinical malaria during the season was also examined.
RESULTS: A total of 1403 individuals-1154 from a semi-urban village and 249 from three rural villages were enrolled; median age was 12 years (interquartile range [IQR] 6, 30) and 12 years (IQR 7, 27) respectively. In adjusted analysis, asymptomatic P. falciparum carriage at the end of a transmission season and carriage just before start of the next one were strongly associated (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 19.99; 95% CI 12.57-31.77, p < 0.001). The odds of persistent carriage (i.e. infected both in January and in June) were higher in rural villages (aOR = 13.0; 95% CI 6.33-26.88, p < 0.001) and in children aged 5-15 years (aOR = 5.03; 95% CI 2.47-10.23, p = < 0.001). In the rural villages, carriage before start of the season was associated with a lower risk of clinical malaria during the season (incidence risk ratio [IRR] 0.48, 95% CI 0.27-0.81, p = 0.007).
CONCLUSIONS: Asymptomatic P. falciparum carriage at the end of a transmission season strongly predicted carriage just before start of the next one. Interventions that clear persistent asymptomatic infections when targeted at the subpopulation with high risk of carriage may reduce the infectious reservoir responsible for launching seasonal transmission.
PMID:36882754 | DOI:10.1186/s12936-023-04519-0