Microscopy underestimates the frequency of Plasmodium falciparum infection in symptomatic individuals in a low transmission highland area

David M. Menge, Kacey C. Ernst, John M. Vulule, Peter A. Zimmerman, Hongfei Guo, Chandy C. John

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

In an area with unstable malaria transmission, detection of Plasmodium falciparum infection in 379 symptomatic individuals was assessed by microscopy and three polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methodologies. P. falciparum infection was detected in 25% of patients by microscopy, 37% by nested PCR, 41% by merozoite surface protein-2 (MSP-2) PCR, and 45% by a ligase detection reaction-fluorescent microsphere assay (LDR-FMA). Of the 64 individuals who were LDR-FMA positive, microscopy negative and did not receive treatment, 8 (12.5%) had persistent symptoms and returned for treatment. Malaria attributable fraction (MAF) in symptomatic individuals was 14.6% by microscopy (95% confidence interval [CI] = 6.6-21.8%) and 28.2% by nested PCR (95% CI = 17.9-37.2%). In this highland area, P. falciparum infection in symptomatic individuals is detected more frequently by PCR than microscopy, and most frequently by LDR-FMA. P. falciparum infection appears to resolve without treatment in most LDR-FMA-positive, microscopy-negative individuals, but is persistent in a subset of these individuals and requires treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-177
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Volume79
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

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