NIH Research Festival
FARE Award Winner
For current malaria transmission control programs to be successful it is critical to clearly define the carriage dynamics of the transmissible gametocyte stage in endemic populations. However, it is unclear whether there is a primary gametocyte reservoir which supports parasite transmission throughout the year and under different transmission settings. To address this we carried out a yearlong cohort study to investigate changes in P. falciparum prevalence and gametocyte carriage in Kenieroba, Mali, which is a highly seasonal malaria transmission area. From May, 2013 we collected peripheral blood samples from a cohort of 500 individuals, ranging in age from 1 to 63 years old at biweekly intervals. These samples were screened for P. falciparum prevalence and gametocyte carriage using highly sensitive PCR-based detection methods. As expected, peak P. falciparum prevalence coincided with the peak of wet season in November, while the lowest prevalence was observed in May. Longitudinal prevalence of P. falciparum was found to be age-dependent and increased with increasing age, peaking in the 9-12 age-group and steadily decreasing in older age-groups. More importantly, gametocyte carriage ranged from a high of 41% in the wet season to a low of 27% in the dry season, with the 9-12 age-group contributing the highest proportionate prevalence in both seasons. Further analysis will examine effect RBC polymorphisms on gametocyte carriage. This work will help define the dynamics of the P. falciparum transmission reservoir which will be important for developing more targeted and efficient malaria interventions and transmission control programs.
Scientific Focus Area: Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
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