Recent publications in Malaria Journal, The Lancet and eLife tackle several challenges to saving lives and malaria elimination. Problems include low access to bednets for children in Ethiopia, high prevalence of asymptomatic malaria in Ghanaian adults, risk of co-infection with other infectious diseases, and gaps in current interventions to prevent malaria in pregnancy and children. On the hopeful side, new targets for drug therapy are being identified. Read more on each by following the links below.
Long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net ownership, utilization and associated factors among school-age children in Southern Ethiopia
Zerihun Zerdo and colleagues examined net use among children in malaria-prone areas of
Dara Mallo and Uba Debretsehay districts because malaria is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality among school-age children (SAC) in sub-Saharan Africa. This study was part of a baseline assessment in a cluster-randomized controlled trial.
The ownership of at least one LLIN by households of school-aged children (SAC) was about 19.3% (95% CI 17.7–21.0%) but only 10.3% % (95% CI 7.7–13.7%) of these households had adequate access of bed nets to the household members. Ownership of bed net was lower than universal coverage of at least one bed net for two individuals. It is important to monitor replacement needs and educate mothers with low education level with their SAC on the benefit of consistent utilization of bed nets.
Prevalence of and risk factors for Plasmodium spp. co-infection with hepatitis B virus: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Kotepui and Kotepui observed that Plasmodium spp. and hepatitis B virus (HBV) are among the most common infectious diseases in underdeveloped countries. Therefore they examined co-infection in people living in endemic areas of both diseases. The PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus databases were searched. Observational cross-sectional studies and retrospective studies assessing the prevalence of Plasmodium species and HBV co-infection were examined. and found 22 studies to include in a systematic review and meta-analysis. Overall, the pooled prevalence estimate of Plasmodium spp. and HBV co-infection was 6% (95% CI 4–7%, Cochran’s Q statistic?<?0.001, I2: 95.8%).
No difference in age or gender and risk of Plasmodium spp. and HBV co-infection group was found. The present study revealed the prevalence of Plasmodium spp. and HBV co-infection, which will help in understanding co-infection and designing treatment strategies. Future studies assessing the interaction between Plasmodium spp. and HBV are recommended.
High prevalence of asymptomatic malaria infections in adults, Ashanti Region, Ghana, 2018
Melina Heinemann and co-researchers noted that Ghana is among the high-burden countries for malaria infections and recently reported a notable increase in malaria cases. While asymptomatic parasitaemia is increasingly recognized as a hurdle for malaria elimination, studies on asymptomatic malaria are scarce, and usually focus on children and on non-falciparum species. Therefore asymptomatic adult residents from five villages in the Ashanti Region, Ghana, were screened for Plasmodium species by rapid diagnostic test (RDT) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) during the rainy season. Samples tested positive were subtyped using species-specific real-time PCR.
Molecular prevalence of asymptomatic Plasmodium infection was 284/391 (73%); only 126 (32%) infections were detected by RDT. While 266 (68%) participants were infected with Plasmodium falciparum, 33 (8%) were infected with Plasmodium malariae and 34 (9%) with P. ovale. The sub-species P. ovale curtisi and P. ovale wallikeri were identified to similar proportions. Non-falciparum infections usually presented as mixed infections with P. falciparum.
Most adult residents in the Ghanaian forest zone are asymptomatic Plasmodium carriers. The high Plasmodium prevalence not detected by RDT in adults highlights that malaria eradication efforts must target all members of the population. Beneath Plasmodium falciparum, screening and treatment must also include infections with P. malariae, P. o. curtisi and P. o. wallikeri.
Scientists shed new light on mechanisms of malaria parasite motility
eLife reports a new insight on the molecular mechanisms that allow malaria parasites to move and spread disease within their hosts has just been published. The first X-ray structures of the molecular complex that allows malaria parasites to spread disease highlight a novel target for antimalarial treatments.
The movement and infectivity of the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, and ultimately its ability to spread malaria among humans, rely on a large molecular complex called the glideosome. The new findings provide a blueprint for the design of future antimalarial treatments that target both the glideosome motor and the elements that regulate it.
New Lancet Series: Malaria in early life
Malaria infections are harmful to both the pregnant mother and the developing fetus. Malaria is associated with a 3–4 times increased risk of miscarriage and a substantially increased risk of stillbirth, and it disproportionately affects children younger than 5 years. Falciparum malaria is responsible for more than 200 000 child deaths per year in Africa and vivax malaria causes excess mortality in children in Asia and Oceania. In a duet of papers, we review 1) the deleterious effects of malaria in pregnancy on the developing fetus and 2) the current strategies for prevention and treatment of malaria in children.
Paper 1 is “Deleterious effects of malaria in pregnancy on the developing fetus: a review on prevention and treatment with antimalarial drugs” by Makoto Saito, Valérie Briand, Aung Myat Min, and Rose McGready. The authors are concerned that one in ten maternal deaths in malaria endemic countries may result from Plasmodium falciparum infection, that malaria is associated with a 3–4 times increased risk of miscarriage and a substantially increased risk of stillbirth. While current treatment and prevention strategies reduce, but do not eliminate, malaria’s damaging effects on pregnancy outcomes. They conclude that there is a need for alternative strategies to prevent malaria in pregnancy.
Paper 2 is “Treatment and prevention of malaria in children” by Elizabeth A Ashley and Jeanne Rini Poespoprodjo. They examine the following interventions: Triple antimalarial combination therapies, the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine, seasonal malaria chemoprevention and preventing relapse in Plasmodium vivax infection with primaquine.