Changing Clinical Epidemiology of Plasmodium vivax Malaria as Transmission Decreases: Population-Based Prospective Panel Survey in the Brazilian Amazon

Pablo S Fontoura, Evelyn G Macedo, Priscila R Calil, Rodrigo M Corder, Priscila T Rodrigues, Juliana Tonini, Fabiana D Esquivel, Winni A Ladeia, Anderson R J Fernandes, Igor C Johansen, Marcos F Silva, Amanda O S Fernandes, Simone Ladeia-Andrade, Marcia C Castro, Marcelo U Ferreira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Malarial infections are often missed by microscopy, and most parasite carriers are asymptomatic in low-endemicity settings. Whether parasite detectability and its ability to elicit symptoms change as transmission declines remains unclear.

METHODS: We performed a prospective panel survey with repeated measurements on the same participants over 12 months to investigate whether Plasmodium vivax detectability by microscopy and risk of symptoms upon infection varied during a community-wide larviciding intervention in the Amazon basin of Brazil that markedly reduced vector density. We screened 1096 to 1400 residents in the intervention site for malaria by microscopy and quantitative TaqMan assays at baseline and twice during intervention.

RESULTS: We found that more P vivax infections than expected from their parasite densities measured by TaqMan assays were missed by microscopy as transmission decreased. At lower transmission, study participants appeared to tolerate higher P vivax loads without developing symptoms. We hypothesize that changes in the ratio between circulating parasites and those that accumulate in the bone marrow and spleen, by avoiding peripheral blood microscopy detection, account for decreased parasite detectability and lower risk of symptoms under low transmission.

CONCLUSIONS: P vivax infections are more likely to be subpatent and remain asymptomatic as malaria transmission decreases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjiad456
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Feb 2024

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