Risk factors for asymptomatic malaria infections from seasonal cross-sectional surveys along the China-Myanmar border

Yan Zhao, Jie Zeng, Yonghong Zhao, Qingyang Liu, Yang He, Jiaqi Zhang, Zhaoqing Yang, Qi Fan, Qinghui Wang, Liwang Cui, Yaming Cao

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31 Scopus citations


Background: Border malaria, a shared phenomenon in the Greater Mekong Sub-region of Southeast Asia, is a major obstacle for regional malaria elimination. Along the China-Myanmar border, an additional problem arose as a result of the settlement of internally displaced people (IDP) in the border region. Since asymptomatic malaria significantly impacts transmission dynamics, assessment of the prevalence, dynamics and risk factors of asymptomatic malaria infections is necessary. Methods: Cross-sectional surveys were carried out in 3 seasons (March and April, July and November) and 2 sites (villages and IDP camps) in 2015. A total of 1680 finger-prick blood samples were collected and used for parasite detection by microscopy and nested RT-PCR (nRT-PCR). Logistic regression models were used to explore the risk factors associated with asymptomatic malaria at individual and household levels. Results: The prevalence of asymptomatic Plasmodium infections was 23.3% by nRT-PCR, significantly higher than that detected by microscopy (1.5%). The proportions of Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium falciparum and mixed-species infections were 89.6, 8.1 and 2.3%, respectively. Asymptomatic infections showed obvious seasonality with higher prevalence in the rainy season. Logistic regression analysis identified males and school children (≤ 15 years) as the high-risk populations. Vector-based interventions, including bed net and indoor residual spray, were found to have significant impacts on asymptomatic Plasmodium infections, with non-users of these measures carrying much higher risks of infection. In addition, individuals living in poorly constructed households or farther away from clinics were more prone to asymptomatic infections. Conclusions: Sub-microscopic Plasmodium infections were highly prevalent in the border human populations from IDP camps and surrounding villages. Both individual- and household-level risk factors were identified, which provides useful information for identifying the high-priority populations to implement targeted malaria control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number247
JournalMalaria journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 4 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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