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      Asymptomatic Plasmodium Infection and Associated Factors in Selected Districts of the Kaffa Zone, Southwest Ethiopia: A Cross-Sectional Study

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      Journal of Tropical Medicine

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          Malaria remains a serious public health problem, particularly in resource scarce areas of the world. The number of malaria cases has dropped remarkably in Ethiopia over the last decade, and efforts to eliminate the disease are underway. Asymptomatic infections may pose significant challenges to the elimination program. The essence of this study was to assess the prevalence of asymptomatic Plasmodium infection and the associated factors among communities of the selected districts in the Kaffa zone.

          Materials and Methods

          April to May and September to October 2021, were the two seasons in which the community-based cross-sectional survey was conducted. Capillary blood from a finger prick was examined by light microscopy (LM) and screened using rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs). The participants' sociodemographic characteristics and malaria prevention measures were collected using a pretested semistructured questionnaire. Data entry and analyses were carried out using EpiData and SPSS version 25.0. Logistic regression (bivariate and multivariable) analyses were carried out to assess the possible associations between the dependent variable and the associated factors.


          566 study participants were involved in the two cross-sectional surveys, including 234 male and 332 female subjects with a mean age of 18.486 (SD ± 15.167). Thirty-eight blood samples (6.7%) were found to be positive for Plasmodium species tested by both LM and RDT. Last night's use of long-lasting insecticidal net (LLIN) (AOR = 2.448, 95% CI: 1.009 5.938, p=0.048), presence of eave (AOR = 4.144, 95% CI: 1.049–16.363, p=0.043), and house sprayed in the last year (AOR = 5.206, 95% CI: 2.176–12.455, p < 0.001) were among factors that showed significant association with asymptomatic Plasmodium infection.


          The asymptomatic Plasmodium infection prevalence recorded in the study area was low. Last night's LLIN usage, the presence of an eave, a house sprayed in the last year, and the presence of stagnant water near the home of the study participants were among the factors associated with an increased risk of catching the disease.

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          Most cited references35

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          World malaria report 2021

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            Asymptomatic malaria infections: detectability, transmissibility and public health relevance.

            Most Plasmodium falciparum infections that are detected in community surveys are characterized by low-density parasitaemia and the absence of clinical symptoms. Molecular diagnostics have shown that this asymptomatic parasitic reservoir is more widespread than previously thought, even in low-endemic areas. In this Opinion article, we describe the detectability of asymptomatic malaria infections and the relevance of submicroscopic infections for parasite transmission to mosquitoes and for community interventions that aim at reducing transmission. We argue that wider deployment of molecular diagnostic tools is needed to provide adequate insight into the epidemiology of malaria and infection dynamics to aid elimination efforts.
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              A method of active case detection to target reservoirs of asymptomatic malaria and gametocyte carriers in a rural area in Southern Province, Zambia

              Background Asymptomatic reservoirs of malaria parasites are common yet are difficult to detect, posing a problem for malaria control. If control programmes focus on mosquito control and treatment of symptomatic individuals only, malaria can quickly resurge if interventions are scaled back. Foci of parasite populations must be identified and treated. Therefore, an active case detection system that facilitates detection of asymptomatic parasitaemia and gametocyte carriers was developed and tested in the Macha region in southern Zambia. Methods Each week, nurses at participating rural health centres (RHC) communicated the number of rapid diagnostic test (RDT) positive malaria cases to a central research team. During the dry season when malaria transmission was lowest, the research team followed up each positive case reported by the RHC by a visit to the homestead. The coordinates of the location were obtained by GPS and all consenting residents completed a questionnaire and were screened for malaria using thick blood film, RDT, nested-PCR, and RT-PCR for asexual and sexual stage parasites. Persons who tested positive by RDT were treated with artemether/lumefantrine (Coartem®). Data were compared with a community-based study of randomly selected households to assess the prevalence of asymptomatic parasitaemia in the same localities in September 2009. Results In total, 186 and 141 participants residing in 23 case and 24 control homesteads, respectively, were screened. In the case homesteads for which a control population was available (10 of the 23), household members of clinically diagnosed cases had a 8.0% prevalence of malaria using PCR compared to 0.7% PCR positive individuals in the control group (p = 0.006). The case and control groups had a gametocyte prevalence of 2.3% and 0%, respectively but the difference was not significant (p = 0.145). Conclusions This pilot project showed that active case detection is feasible and can identify reservoirs of asymptomatic infection. A larger sample size, data over multiple low transmission seasons, and in areas with different transmission dynamics are needed to further validate this approach.

                Author and article information

                J Trop Med
                J Trop Med
                Journal of Tropical Medicine
                13 April 2023
                : 2023
                : 4144834
                Department of Medical Laboratory Science, College of Health Science and Medicine, Mizan- Tepi University, Mizan-Aman, Ethiopia
                Author notes

                Academic Editor: Linda Amoah

                Author information
                Copyright © 2023 Tadesse Duguma et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 30 April 2022
                : 15 July 2022
                : 31 March 2023
                Funded by: Mizan–Tepi University
                Research Article

                Infectious disease & Microbiology
                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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