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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Malaria journal
Title Malaria prevalence in asymptomatic and symptomatic children in Kiwangwa, Bagamoyo district, Tanzania
Volume 16
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
URL https://malariajournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12936-017-1870-4
Malaria prevalence continues to decline across sub-Saharan Africa as a result of various intervention strategies. However, the diseases still poses a public health concern in the region. While symptomatic malaria is recognized and treated, asymptomatic infections become increasingly important for interrupting transmission. A cross-sectional survey was conducted to assess malaria prevalence in symptomatic and asymptomatic children in Kiwangwa ward in Bagamoyo District in Tanzania.

Four hundred school-aged children in Kiwanga ward were recruited in the study; 200 from Kiwangwa dispensary and 200 from nearby schools. Primary health parameters were examined and blood samples collected and examined for Plasmodium falciparum prevalence using rapid diagnostic test (RDT), light microscopy (LM) and reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) targeting transcripts of A-type 18s rRNA of P. falciparum. Gametocytes were detected by LM and RT-qPCR targeting transcripts of gametocyte specific marker, Pfs25.

Overall P. falciparum prevalence was 73.3, 40.8 and 36.3% by RT-qPCR, RDT and LM in the study area, respectively (P < 0.001). As expected symptomatic children had a significantly higher prevalence of 89, 67.5 and 64.5% by qPCR, RDT and LM, compared to 57.5, 14 and 8% in the asymptomatic group, respectively. However, gametocyte prevalence in asymptomatic individuals was higher by both LM (2%) and qPCR (14%) than in symptomatic individuals LM (0.5%) and qPCR (3%).

A substantial difference in prevalence of symptomatic and asymptomatic infections observed in Kiwangwa ward underpins the use of molecular tools in malaria surveillance aiming at estimating prevalence and transmission. Notably, the higher gametocytaemia observed in asymptomatic children indicates the reservoir infections and points to the need for detection and treatment of both asymptomatic and symptomatic malaria.

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