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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Malaria journal
Title Household clustering of asymptomatic malaria infections in Xepon district, Savannakhet province, Lao PDR
Volume 15
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL https://malariajournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12936-016-1552-7
In the Lao PDR, malaria morbidity and mortality have remarkably decreased over the past decade. However, asymptomatic infections in rural villages contribute to the on-going local transmission. The primary objective of this study was to explore the characteristics of infections in a malaria-endemic district of the Lao PDR. The specific objectives were to investigate the prevalence and species of malaria parasites using molecular methods and to assess individual and household parasite levels and the characteristics associated with malaria infection.

The study population included 870 participants from 236 households in 10 villages of the Xepon district. Interviews, blood examinations and body temperature measurements were conducted between August and September 2013. A multilevel logistic regression model, with adjustment for clustering effects, was used to assess the association between predictor variables and an outcome variable (malaria infection status as principally determined by PCR). The predictive factors included individual-level factors (age, gender, past fever episode, and forest activity during night time) and household-level factors (household member size, household bed net usage/density and a household with one other malaria-infected member).

Fifty-two participants (including 26 children) tested positive (positive rate: 6.0 %): Plasmodium falciparum mono-infection was the most common infection (n = 41, 78.8 %), followed by P. falciparum and Plasmodium vivax mixed infections (n = 9, 17.3 %). The majority of infected participants (n = 42, 80.8 %) had no fever episodes in the two previous weeks or a measurable fever (>37 °C) at the time of survey. Living in a household with one other malaria-infected member significantly increased the odds of infection (odds ratio 24.33, 95 % confidence interval 10.15–58.32). Among the 40 households that had at least one infected member, nine households were responsible for 40.4 % of the total infections.

Plasmodium vivax was detected more frequently than it was reported from the district hospital. Most infections were asymptomatic and sub-microscopic and were highly clustered within households. To further eliminate malaria in Xepon and other similar settings in the country, the National Malaria Control Programme should consider household-based strategies, including reactive case detection targeting the household members of index cases.

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