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      Assessment of asymptomatic Plasmodium spp. infection by detection of parasite DNA in residents of an extra-Amazonian region of Brazil

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          Abstract

          Background

          The hypotheses put forward to explain the malaria transmission cycle in extra-Amazonian Brazil, an area of very low malaria incidence, are based on either a zoonotic scenario involving simian malaria, or a scenario in which asymptomatic carriers play an important role.

          Objectives

          To determine the incidence of asymptomatic infection by detecting Plasmodium spp. DNA and its role in residual malaria transmission in a non-Amazonian region of Brazil.

          Methods

          Upon the report of the first malaria case in 2010 in the Atlantic Forest region of the state of Espírito Santo, inhabitants within a 2 km radius were invited to participate in a follow-up study. After providing signed informed consent forms, inhabitants filled out a questionnaire and gave blood samples for PCR, and thick and thin smears. Follow-up visits were performed every 3 months over a 21 month period, when new samples were collected and information was updated.

          Results

          Ninety-two individuals were initially included for follow-up. At the first collection, all of them were clearly asymptomatic. One individual was positive for Plasmodium vivax, one for Plasmodium malariae and one for both P. vivax and P. malariae, corresponding to a prevalence of 3.4% (2.3% for each species). During follow-up, four new PCR-positive cases (two for each species) were recorded, corresponding to an incidence of 2.5 infections per 100 person-years or 1.25 infections per 100 person-years for each species. A mathematical transmission model was applied, using a low frequency of human carriers and the vector density in the region, and calculated based on previous studies in the same locality whose results were subjected to a linear regression. This analysis suggests that the transmission chain is unlikely to be based solely on human carriers, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or not.

          Conclusion

          The low incidence of cases and the low frequency of asymptomatic malaria carriers investigated make it unlikely that the transmission chain in the region is based solely on human hosts, as cases are isolated one from another by hundreds of kilometers and frequently by long periods of time, reinforcing instead the hypothesis of zoonotic transmission.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (10.1186/s12936-018-2263-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 66

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          Plasmodium knowlesi malaria in humans is widely distributed and potentially life threatening.

          Until recently, Plasmodium knowlesi malaria in humans was misdiagnosed as Plasmodium malariae malaria. The objectives of the present study were to determine the geographic distribution of P. knowlesi malaria in the human population in Malaysia and to investigate 4 suspected fatal cases. Sensitive and specific nested polymerase chain reaction was used to identify all Plasmodium species present in (1) blood samples obtained from 960 patients with malaria who were hospitalized in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, during 2001-2006; (2) 54 P. malariae archival blood films from 15 districts in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo (during 2003-2005), and 4 districts in Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia (during 2004-2005); and (3) 4 patients whose suspected cause of death was P. knowlesi malaria. For the 4 latter cases, available clinical and laboratory data were reviewed. P. knowlesi DNA was detected in 266 (27.7%) of 960 of the samples from Sarawak hospitals, 41 (83.7%) of 49 from Sabah, and all 5 from Pahang. Only P. knowlesi DNA was detected in archival blood films from the 4 patients who died. All were hyperparasitemic and developed marked hepatorenal dysfunction. Human infection with P. knowlesi, commonly misidentified as the more benign P. malariae, are widely distributed across Malaysian Borneo and extend to Peninsular Malaysia. Because P. knowlesi replicates every 24 h, rapid diagnosis and prompt effective treatment are essential. In the absence of a specific routine diagnostic test for P. knowlesi malaria, we recommend that patients who reside in or have traveled to Southeast Asia and who have received a "P. malariae" hyperparasitemia diagnosis by microscopy receive intensive management as appropriate for severe falciparum malaria.
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            Malaria in Brazil: an overview

            Malaria is still a major public health problem in Brazil, with approximately 306 000 registered cases in 2009, but it is estimated that in the early 1940s, around six million cases of malaria occurred each year. As a result of the fight against the disease, the number of malaria cases decreased over the years and the smallest numbers of cases to-date were recorded in the 1960s. From the mid-1960s onwards, Brazil underwent a rapid and disorganized settlement process in the Amazon and this migratory movement led to a progressive increase in the number of reported cases. Although the main mosquito vector (Anopheles darlingi) is present in about 80% of the country, currently the incidence of malaria in Brazil is almost exclusively (99,8% of the cases) restricted to the region of the Amazon Basin, where a number of combined factors favors disease transmission and impair the use of standard control procedures. Plasmodium vivax accounts for 83,7% of registered cases, while Plasmodium falciparum is responsible for 16,3% and Plasmodium malariae is seldom observed. Although vivax malaria is thought to cause little mortality, compared to falciparum malaria, it accounts for much of the morbidity and for huge burdens on the prosperity of endemic communities. However, in the last few years a pattern of unusual clinical complications with fatal cases associated with P. vivax have been reported in Brazil and this is a matter of concern for Brazilian malariologists. In addition, the emergence of P. vivax strains resistant to chloroquine in some reports needs to be further investigated. In contrast, asymptomatic infection by P. falciparum and P. vivax has been detected in epidemiological studies in the states of Rondonia and Amazonas, indicating probably a pattern of clinical immunity in both autochthonous and migrant populations. Seropidemiological studies investigating the type of immune responses elicited in naturally-exposed populations to several malaria vaccine candidates in Brazilian populations have also been providing important information on whether immune responses specific to these antigens are generated in natural infections and their immunogenic potential as vaccine candidates. The present difficulties in reducing economic and social risk factors that determine the incidence of malaria in the Amazon Region render impracticable its elimination in the region. As a result, a malaria-integrated control effort - as a joint action on the part of the government and the population - directed towards the elimination or reduction of the risks of death or illness, is the direction adopted by the Brazilian government in the fight against the disease.
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              The silent threat: asymptomatic parasitemia and malaria transmission.

              Scale-up of malaria control interventions has resulted in a substantial decline in global malaria morbidity and mortality. Despite this achievement, there is evidence that current interventions alone will not lead to malaria elimination in most malaria-endemic areas and additional strategies need to be considered. Use of antimalarial drugs to target the reservoir of malaria infection is an option to reduce the transmission of malaria between humans and mosquito vectors. However, a large proportion of human malaria infections are asymptomatic, requiring treatment that is not triggered by care-seeking for clinical illness. This article reviews the evidence that asymptomatic malaria infection plays an important role in malaria transmission and that interventions to target this parasite reservoir may be needed to achieve malaria elimination in both low- and high-transmission areas.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                tomenaalencar62@gmail.com
                Journal
                Malar J
                Malar. J
                Malaria Journal
                BioMed Central (London )
                1475-2875
                14 March 2018
                14 March 2018
                2018
                : 17
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2167 4168, GRID grid.412371.2, Graduate Programme in Infectious Diseases, , Federal University of Espírito Santo, ; Vitória, Brazil
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1937 0722, GRID grid.11899.38, Protozoology Laboratory, , Institute of Tropical Medicine, University of São Paulo, ; São Paulo, Brazil
                [3 ]Entomology and Malacology Unit, Espírito Santo State Department of Health (SESA), Vitória, Brazil
                [4 ]Superintendency for the Control of Endemic Diseases (SUCEN), São Paulo State Department of Health, São Paulo, Brazil
                [5 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1937 0722, GRID grid.11899.38, Faculty of Public Health, , University of São Paulo, ; São Paulo, Brazil
                Article
                2263
                10.1186/s12936-018-2263-z
                5853114
                29540186
                © The Author(s) 2018

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided 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 Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funding
                Funded by: State of Espírito Santo Research Foundation (FAPES)
                Award ID: 45617600/2009
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)
                Award ID: 10/50707-5
                Award Recipient :
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                © The Author(s) 2018

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