Insights into Plasmodium vivax Asymptomatic Malaria Infections and Direct Skin-Feeding Assays to Assess Onward Malaria Transmission in the Amazon


Understanding the reservoir and infectivity of Plasmodium gametocytes to vector mosquitoes is crucial to align strategies aimed at malaria transmission elimination. Yet, experimental information is scarce regarding the infectivity of Plasmodium vivax for mosquitoes in diverse epidemiological settings where the proportion of asymptomatically infected individuals varies at a microgeographic scale. We measured the transmissibility of clinical and subclinical P. vivax malaria parasite carriers to the major mosquito vector in the Amazon Basin, Nyssorhynchus darlingi (formerly Anopheles). A total of 105 participants with natural P. vivax malaria infection were recruited from a cohort study in Loreto Department, Peruvian Amazon. Four of 18 asymptomatic individuals with P. vivax positivity by blood smear infected colony-grown Ny. darlingi (22%), with 2.6% (19 of 728) mosquitoes infected. In contrast, 77% (44/57) of symptomatic participants were infectious to mosquitoes with 51% (890 of 1,753) mosquitoes infected. Infection intensity was greater in symptomatic infections (mean, 17.8 oocysts/mosquito) compared with asymptomatic infections (mean, 0.28 oocysts/mosquito), attributed to parasitemia/gametocytemia level. Paired experiments (N = 27) using direct skin-feeding assays and direct membrane mosquito-feeding assays showed that infectivity to mosquitoes was similar for both methods. Longitudinal studies with longer follow-up of symptomatic and asymptomatic parasite infections are needed to determine the natural variations of disease transmissibility.

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.