High prevalence of very-low Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax parasitaemia carriers in the Peruvian Amazon: insights into local and occupational mobility-related transmission


The incidence of malaria due both to Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax in the Peruvian Amazon has risen in the past 5 years. This study tested the hypothesis that the maintenance and emergence of malaria in hypoendemic regions such as Amazonia is determined by submicroscopic and asymptomatic Plasmodium parasitaemia carriers. The present study aimed to precisely quantify the rate of very-low parasitaemia carriers in two sites of the Peruvian Amazon in relation to transmission patterns of P. vivax and P. falciparum in this area.
This study was carried out within the Amazonian-ICEMR longitudinal cohort. Blood samples were collected for light microscopy diagnosis and packed red blood cell (PRBC) samples were analysed by qPCR. Plasma samples were tested for total IgG reactivity against recombinant PvMSP-10 and PfMSP-10 antigens by ELISA. Occupation and age 10 years and greater were considered surrogates of occupation-related mobility. Risk factors for P. falciparum and P. vivax infections detected by PRBC-qPCR were assessed by multilevel logistic regression models.
Among 450 subjects, the prevalence of P. vivax by PRBC-PCR (25.1%) was sixfold higher than that determined by microscopy (3.6%). The prevalence of P. falciparum infection was 4.9% by PRBC-PCR and 0.2% by microscopy. More than 40% of infections had parasitaemia under 5 parasites/μL. Multivariate analysis for infections detected by PRBC-PCR showed that participants with recent settlement in the study area (AOR 2.1; 95% CI 1.03:4.2), age ≥ 30 years (AOR 3.3; 95% CI 1.6:6.9) and seropositivity to P. vivax (AOR 1.8; 95% CI 1.0:3.2) had significantly higher likelihood of P. vivax infection, while the odds of P. falciparum infection was higher for participants between 10 and 29 years (AOR 10.7; 95% CI 1.3:91.1) and with a previous P. falciparum infection (AOR 10.4; 95% CI 1.5:71.1).
This study confirms the contrasting transmission patterns of P. vivax and P. falciparum in the Peruvian Amazon, with stable local transmission for P. vivax and the source of P. falciparum to the study villages dominated by very low parasitaemia carriers, age 10 years and older, who had travelled away from home for work and brought P. falciparum infection with them.

Malaria Journal
Gabriel Carrasco-Escobar
Gabriel Carrasco-Escobar
Assistant Professor

My research interests include infectious diseases epidemiology, causal inference, global health, Climate Change, Data Science, Urban Health, and Geospatial modeling & viz.