World Malaria Day is Saturday, April 25, 2015
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 584,000 people died in 2013 from malaria, a preventable and curable disease transmitted to people through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk, but the most common victims are women and children in Africa.
In support of World Malaria Day’s mission to share resources, engage in dialogue, and to contribute views, ideas and events to mobilize the world against malaria, Oxford University Press is highlighting the following articles about malaria research and prevention from journals published on behalf of the Entomological Society of America, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society:
Efficacy of Pyriproxyfen-Treated Nets in Sterilizing and Shortening the Longevity of Anopheles gambiae (Diptera: Culicidae), Journal of Medical Entomology
Pyrethroid-resistant malaria vectors have become a serious threat for malaria control, and bed nets that reduce the development of resistance are urgently needed. Here, we tested the effects of bed nets treated with the insect growth regulator pyriproxyfen against adult female Anopheles gambiae Giles (Diptera: Culicidae) under laboratory conditions. Noninsecticidal nets made of 195 denier monofilament polyethylene with a mesh size of 75 holes per square inch (equivalent to the Olyset Net) were dipped in a 0.1, 0.01, or 0.001% (wt:vol) alcohol solution of pyriproxyfen and dried overnight. Adult females of an insecticide-susceptible An. gambiae strain were exposed to treated and untreated nets before and after a bloodmeal. Bioassays showed that females were completely sterilized after exposure to 0.1% (35 mg [AI]/m2) and 0.01% pyriproxyfen-treated nets both before and after a bloodmeal. In addition, adult longevity decreased after exposure to the pyriproxyfen-treated nets in a concentration-dependent manner. The sterilizing and life-shortening effects of pyriproxyfen on the vector mosquito indicate that the combined use of pyriproxyfen and pyrethroids on bed nets has the potential to provide better malaria control and prevent the further development of pyrethroid resistance in malaria vectors.
Seasonal Variation in Spatial Distributions of Anopheles gambiae in a Sahelian Village: Evidence for Aestivation, Journal of Medical Entomology
Changes in spatial distribution of mosquitoes over time in a Sahelian village were studied to understand the sources of the mosquitoes during the dry season when no larval sites are found. At that time, the sources of Anopheles gambiae Giles may be local shelters used by aestivating mosquitoes or migrants from distant populations. The mosquito distribution was more aggregated during the dry season, when few houses had densities 7- to 24-fold higher than expected. The high-density houses during the dry season differed from those of the wet season. Most high-density houses during the dry season changed between years, yet their vicinity was rather stable. Scan statistics confirmed the presence of one or two adjacent hotspots in the dry season, usually found on one edge of the village. These hotspots shifted between the early and late dry season. During the wet season, the hotspots were relatively stable near the main larval site. The locations of the hotspots in the wet season and early and late dry season were similar between years. Season-specific, stable, and focal hotspots are inconsistent with the predictions based on the arrival of migrants from distant localities during the dry season, but are consistent with the predictions based on local shelters used by aestivating mosquitoes. Targeting hotspots in Sahelian villages for vector control may not be effective because the degree of aggregation is moderate, the hotspots are not easily predicted, and they are not the sources of the population. However, targeting the dry-season shelters may be highly cost-effective, once they can be identified and predicted.
Vaccines against Malaria, Clinical Infectious Diseases
Despite global efforts to control malaria, the illness remains a significant public health threat. Currently, there is no licensed vaccine against malaria, but an efficacious vaccine would represent an important public health tool for successful malaria elimination. Malaria vaccine development continues to be hindered by a poor understanding of antimalarial immunity, a lack of an immune correlate of protection, and the genetic diversity of malaria parasites. Current vaccine development efforts largely target Plasmodium falciparum parasites in the pre-erythrocytic and erythrocytic stages, with some research on transmission-blocking vaccines against asexual stages and vaccines against pregnancy-associated malaria. The leading pre-erythrocytic vaccine candidate is RTS,S, and early results of ongoing Phase 3 testing show overall efficacy of 46% against clinical malaria. The next steps for malaria vaccine development will focus on the design of a product that is efficacious against the highly diverse strains of malaria and the identification of a correlate of protection against disease.
Plasma Concentration of Parasite DNA as a Measure of Disease Severity in Falciparum Malaria, The Journal of Infectious Diseases
In malaria-endemic areas, Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia is common in apparently healthy children and severe malaria is commonly misdiagnosed in patients with incidental parasitemia. We assessed whether the plasma Plasmodium falciparum DNA concentration is a useful datum for distinguishing uncomplicated from severe malaria in African children and Asian adults. P. falciparum DNA concentrations were measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 224 African children (111 with uncomplicated malaria and 113 with severe malaria) and 211 Asian adults (100 with uncomplicated malaria and 111 with severe malaria) presenting with acute falciparum malaria. The diagnostic accuracy of plasma P. falciparum DNA concentrations in identifying severe malaria was 0.834 for children and 0.788 for adults, similar to that of plasma P. falciparum HRP2 levels and substantially superior to that of parasite densities (P < .0001). The diagnostic accuracy of plasma P. falciparum DNA concentrations plus plasma P. falciparum HRP2 concentrations was significantly greater than that of plasma P. falciparum HRP2 concentrations alone (0.904 for children [P = .004] and 0.847 for adults [P = .003]). Quantitative real-time PCR measurement of parasite DNA in plasma is a useful method for diagnosing severe falciparum malaria on fresh or archived plasma samples.
Determinants of Infant Susceptibility to Malaria During the First Year of Life in South Western Cameroon, Open Forum Infectious Diseases
Background. Falciparum malaria is an important pediatric infectious disease that frequently affects pregnant women and alters infant morbidity. However, the impact of some prenatal and perinatal risk factors such as season and intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy (IPTp) on neonatal susceptibility has not been fully elucidated.
Methods. A cohort of 415 infants born to women who were positive and negative for malaria was monitored in a longitudinal study in Southwestern Cameroon. The clinical and malaria statuses were assessed throughout, whereas paired maternal-cord and 1-year-old antimalarial antibodies were assayed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Infant susceptibility to malaria was ascertained after accounting for IPTp and season in the statistical analysis.
Results. Malaria prevalence was higher in women (P = .039) who delivered during the rainy season and their infants (P = .030) compared with their dry season counterparts. Infants born to women who were positive for malaria (6.40 ± 2.83 months) were older (P = .028) than their counterparts who were negative for malaria (5.52 ± 2.85 months) when they experienced their first malaria episode. Infants born in September–November (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.31, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.13–0.72) and to mothers on 1 or no IPTp-sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine (SP) dose (adjusted OR = 0.51, 95% CI = 0.28–0.91) were protected, whereas those born in the rainy season (adjusted OR = 2.82, 95% CI = 1.21–6.55) were susceptible to malaria.
Conclusions. Intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy and month of birth have important implications for infant susceptibility to malaria, with 2 or more IPTp-SP dosage possibly reducing immunoglobulin M production.
T-Regulatory Cells and Inflammatory and Inhibitory Cytokines in Malawian Children Residing in an Area of High and an Area of Low Malaria Transmission During Acute Uncomplicated Malaria and in Convalescence, Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society
Background. Malaria still infects many Malawian children, and it is a cause of death in some of them. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) help in negating immune-related pathology, it but can also favor multiplication of malaria parasites. The question remains whether children recovering from uncomplicated malaria (UCM) have higher Tregs and interleukin (IL)-10 levels in convalescence.
Methods. We recruited children between the ages of 6 and 60 months presenting with acute UCM in Blantyre (low transmission area) and Chikwawa (high transmission area). We observed the children after 1 month and 3 months and analyzed their blood samples for parasitemia, lymphocyte subsets, and levels of the cytokines interferon (IFN)-γ, IL-10, and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. Blood samples from age-matched controls were also analyzed for the same parameters.
Results. Compared with controls, acute UCM was associated with mild lymphopenia, splenomegaly, and high levels of IFN-γ, tumor necrosis factor-α, and IL-10, which normalized in convalescence. In Chikwawa, Treg counts were significantly (P < .0001) higher in convalescence compared with acute disease, whereas in Blantyre, these were as low as in healthy controls both during acute disease and in convalescence. Blantyre had a higher percentage of parasiteamic children (15% versus 12%) in convalescence compared with Chikwawa, but none of these developed symptomatic malaria during the study duration. Concentrations of TGF-β were higher at time points for the study participants and in controls from Blantyre compared with those recruited in Chikwawa.
Conclusions. The high transmission area was associated with high Tregs counts and IL-10 concentrations in convalescence, which could have an effect on parasite clearance. We recommend that children recovering from UCM, especially those from high transmission area, should sleep under insecticide-treated nets, be screened for parasitemia, and a provision of antimalarial prophylaxis should be considered.