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1.  Imported malaria and high risk groups: observational study using UK surveillance data 1987-2006 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2008;337(7661):103-106.
Objective To examine temporal, geographic, and sociodemographic trends in case reporting and case fatality of malaria in the United Kingdom.
Setting National malaria reference laboratory surveillance data in the UK.
Design Observational study using prospectively gathered surveillance data and data on destinations from the international passenger survey.
Participants 39 300 cases of proved malaria in the UK between 1987 and 2006.
Main outcome measures Plasmodium species; sociodemographic details (including age, sex, and country of birth and residence); mortality; destination, duration, and purpose of international travel; and use of chemoprophylaxis.
Results Reported cases of imported malaria increased significantly over the 20 years of the study; an increasing proportion was attributable to Plasmodium falciparum (P falciparum/P vivax reporting ratio 1.3:1 in 1987-91 and 5.4:1 in 2002-6). P vivax reports declined from 3954 in 1987-91 to 1244 in 2002-6. Case fatality of reported P falciparum malaria did not change over this period (7.4 deaths per 1000 reported cases). Travellers visiting friends and relatives, usually in a country in Africa or Asia from which members of their family migrated, accounted for 13 215/20 488 (64.5%) of all malaria reported, and reports were geographically concentrated in areas where migrants from Africa and South Asia to the UK have settled. People travelling for this purpose were at significantly higher risk of malaria than other travellers and were less likely to report the use of any chemoprophylaxis (odds ratio of reported chemoprophylaxis use 0.23, 95% confidence interval 0.21 to 0.25).
Conclusions Despite the availability of highly effective preventive measures, the preventable burden from falciparum malaria has steadily increased in the UK while vivax malaria has decreased. Provision of targeted and appropriately delivered preventive messages and services for travellers from migrant families visiting friends and relatives should be a priority.
doi:10.1136/bmj.a120
PMCID: PMC2453297  PMID: 18599471
2.  Multidrug-Resistant Plasmodium vivax Associated with Severe and Fatal Malaria: A Prospective Study in Papua, Indonesia 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(6):e128.
Background
Multidrug-resistant Plasmodium vivax (Pv) is widespread in eastern Indonesia, and emerging elsewhere in Asia-Pacific and South America, but is generally regarded as a benign disease. The aim of the study was to review the spectrum of disease associated with malaria due to Pv and P. falciparum (Pf) in patients presenting to a hospital in Timika, southern Papua, Indonesia.
Methods and Findings
Data were prospectively collected from all patients attending the outpatient and inpatient departments of the only hospital in the region using systematic data forms and hospital computerised records. Between January 2004 and December 2007, clinical malaria was present in 16% (60,226/373,450) of hospital outpatients and 32% (12,171/37,800) of inpatients. Among patients admitted with slide-confirmed malaria, 64% of patients had Pf, 24% Pv, and 10.5% mixed infections. The proportion of malarial admissions attributable to Pv rose to 47% (415/887) in children under 1 y of age. Severe disease was present in 2,634 (22%) inpatients with malaria, with the risk greater among Pv (23% [675/2,937]) infections compared to Pf (20% [1,570/7,817]; odds ratio [OR] = 1.19 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08–1.32], p = 0.001), and greatest in patients with mixed infections (31% [389/1,273]); overall p < 0.0001. Severe anaemia (haemoglobin < 5 g/dl) was the major complication associated with Pv, accounting for 87% (589/675) of severe disease compared to 73% (1,144/1,570) of severe manifestations with Pf (p < 0.001). Pure Pv infection was also present in 78 patients with respiratory distress and 42 patients with coma. In total 242 (2.0%) patients with malaria died during admission: 2.2% (167/7,722) with Pf, 1.6% (46/2,916) with Pv, and 2.3% (29/1260) with mixed infections (p = 0.126).
Conclusions
In this region with established high-grade chloroquine resistance to both Pv and Pf, Pv is associated with severe and fatal malaria particularly in young children. The epidemiology of P. vivax needs to be re-examined elsewhere where chloroquine resistance is increasing.
Ric Price and colleagues present data from southern Papua, Indonesia, suggesting that malaria resulting from infection withPlasmodium vivax is associated with substantial morbidity and mortality.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Malaria, a parasitic disease transmitted to people by mosquitoes, is common throughout the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, infections with Plasmodium falciparum cause most of the malaria-associated illness and death. Elsewhere, another related parasite—P. vivax—is often the commonest cause of malaria. Both parasites are injected into the human blood stream when an infected mosquito bites a person. From there, the parasites travel to the liver, where they multiply for 8–9 d and mature into a form of the parasite known as merozoites. These merozoites are released from the liver and invade red blood cells where they multiply rapidly for a couple of days before bursting out and infecting more red blood cells. This cyclical accumulation of parasites in the blood causes a recurring flu-like illness characterized by fevers, headaches, chills, and sweating. Malaria can be treated with antimalarial drugs but, if left untreated, infections with P. falciparum can cause anemia (by destroying red blood cells) and can damage the brain and other vital organs (by blocking the capillaries that supply these organs with blood), complications that can be fatal.
Why Was This Study Done?
Unlike falciparum malaria, vivax malaria is generally regarded as a benign or nonfatal disease even though there have been several reports recently of severe disease and deaths associated with vivax malaria. These reports do not indicate, however, whether P. vivax is responsible for a significant proportion of malarial deaths. Public health officials need to know this information because strains of P. vivax that are resistant to multiple antimalarial drugs are widespread in Indonesia and beginning to emerge elsewhere in Asia and South America. In this study, therefore, the researchers investigate the relative burden of vivax and falciparum malaria in Papua, Indonesia, a region where multidrug-resistant strains of both P. falciparum and P. vivax are common.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers examined data collected from all the patients attending the outpatient and inpatient departments of a hospital that serves a large area in the southern lowlands of Papua, Indonesia between January 2004 and December 2007. Among those inpatients in whom malaria had been confirmed by finding parasites in blood samples, two-thirds were infected with P. falciparum, a quarter with P. vivax, and the rest with a mixture of parasites. Nearly one in four patients infected with P. vivax developed severe malaria compared with roughly one in five patients infected with P. falciparum. However, about one in three patients infected with both parasites developed severe disease. Whichever parasite was responsible for the infection, the proportion of patients with severe disease was greatest among children below the age of five years. Severe anemia was the commonest complication associated with severe malaria caused by both P. vivax and P. falciparum (present in 87% and 73% of cases, respectively). Finally, one in 50 patients with malaria died; the risk of death was the same for patients infected with P. falciparum, P. vivax, or both parasites.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide important information about the burden of malaria associated with P. vivax infection. They show that in a region where multidrug-resistant strains of both P. falciparum and P. vivax are common, P. vivax infection (as well as P. falciparum infection) is associated with severe and fatal malaria, particularly in young children. The findings also show that infection with a mixture of the two parasites is associated with a higher risk of severe disease than infection with either parasite alone. Most importantly, they show that similar proportions of patients infected with P. falciparum, P. vivax, or a mixture of parasites die. Further studies need to be done in other settings to confirm these findings and to learn more about the pattern of severe malaria associated with P. vivax (in particular, with multidrug-resistant strains). Nevertheless, these findings highlight the need to consider both P. vivax and P. falciparum when implementing measures designed to reduce the malaria burden in regions where these parasites coexist.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050128.
A PLoS Medicine Research in Translation article by Stephen Rogerson further discusses this study and a related PLoS Medicine paper on vivax malaria in a community cohort from Papua New Guinea
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has a page on malaria (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
Vivaxmalaria provides information on topics related to P. vivax
The Malaria Vaccine Initiative also provides a fact sheet on P. vivax malaria
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on the global control of malaria
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050128
PMCID: PMC2429950  PMID: 18563962
3.  Quantifying the Number of Pregnancies at Risk of Malaria in 2007: A Demographic Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(1):e1000221.
By combining data from the Malaria Atlas Project with country-specific data, Feiko ter Kuile and colleagues provide the first contemporary global estimates of the annual number of pregnancies at risk of malaria.
Background
Comprehensive and contemporary estimates of the number of pregnancies at risk of malaria are not currently available, particularly for endemic areas outside of Africa. We derived global estimates of the number of women who became pregnant in 2007 in areas with Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax transmission.
Methods and Findings
A recently published map of the global limits of P. falciparum transmission and an updated map of the limits of P. vivax transmission were combined with gridded population data and growth rates to estimate total populations at risk of malaria in 2007. Country-specific demographic data from the United Nations on age, sex, and total fertility rates were used to estimate the number of women of child-bearing age and the annual rate of live births. Subregional estimates of the number of induced abortions and country-specific stillbirths rates were obtained from recently published reviews. The number of miscarriages was estimated from the number of live births and corrected for induced abortion rates. The number of clinically recognised pregnancies at risk was then calculated as the sum of the number of live births, induced abortions, spontaneous miscarriages, and stillbirths among the population at risk in 2007. In 2007, 125.2 million pregnancies occurred in areas with P. falciparum and/or P. vivax transmission resulting in 82.6 million live births. This included 77.4, 30.3, 13.1, and 4.3 million pregnancies in the countries falling under the World Health Organization (WHO) regional offices for South-East-Asia (SEARO) and the Western-Pacific (WPRO) combined, Africa (AFRO), Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean (EURO/EMRO), and the Americas (AMRO), respectively. Of 85.3 million pregnancies in areas with P. falciparum transmission, 54.7 million occurred in areas with stable transmission and 30.6 million in areas with unstable transmission (clinical incidence <1 per 10,000 population/year); 92.9 million occurred in areas with P. vivax transmission, 53.0 million of which occurred in areas in which P. falciparum and P. vivax co-exist and 39.9 million in temperate regions with P. vivax transmission only.
Conclusions
In 2007, 54.7 million pregnancies occurred in areas with stable P. falciparum malaria and a further 70.5 million in areas with exceptionally low malaria transmission or with P. vivax only. These represent the first contemporary estimates of the global distribution of the number of pregnancies at risk of P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria and provide a first step towards a more informed estimate of the geographical distribution of infection rates and the corresponding disease burden of malaria in pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasitic disease, is a major global public-health problem. About half of the world's population is at risk of malaria, which kills about one million people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by Plasmodium falciparum, which thrives in tropical and subtropical regions. However, the most widely distributed type of malaria is P. vivax malaria, which also occurs in temperate regions. Most malaria deaths are among young children in sub-Saharan Africa, but pregnant women and their unborn babies are also very vulnerable to malaria. About 10,000 women and 200,000 babies die annually because of malaria in pregnancy, which can cause miscarriages, preterm births, and low-birth-weight births. Over the past decade, a three-pronged approach has been developed to prevent and control malaria in pregnancy. This approach consists of intermittent preventative treatment of pregnant women with antimalarial drugs, the use of insecticide-treated bed nets to protect pregnant women from the bites of infected mosquitoes, and management of malarial illness among pregnant women.
Why Was This Study Done?
This strategy has begun to reduce the burden of malaria among pregnant women and their babies but the resources available for its introduction are very limited in many of the developing countries where malaria is endemic (always present). Policy makers in these countries need to know the number of pregnancies at risk of malaria so that they can use their resources wisely. However, although the World Health Organization recently estimated that more than 30 million African women living in malaria endemic areas become pregnant and are at risk for malaria each year, there are no comprehensive and contemporary estimates of the number of pregnancies at risk of malaria for endemic areas outside Africa. In this study, the researchers derive global estimates of the number of women who became pregnant in 2007 in areas with P. falciparum and P. vivax transmission.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers estimated the sizes of populations at risk of malaria in 2007 by combining maps of the global limits of P. vivax and P. falciparum transmission with data on population densities. They used data from various sources to calculate the annual number of pregnancies (the sum of live births, induced abortions, miscarriages, and still births) in each country. Finally, they calculated the annual number of pregnancies at risk of malaria in each country by multiplying the number of pregnancies in the entire country by the fraction of the population living within the spatial limits of malaria transmission in that country. In 2007, they calculate, 125.2 million pregnancies occurred in areas with P. falciparum and/or P. vivax transmission. These pregnancies—60% of all pregnancies globally—resulted in 82.6 million live births. 77.4 million at-risk pregnancies occurred in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific (India had the most pregnancies at risk of both P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria), 30.3 million in Africa, 13.1 million in Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, and 4.3 million in the Americas. 54.7 million at-risk pregnancies occurred in regions with stable P. falciparum transmission (more than one case of malaria per 10,000 people per year), whereas 70.5 million occurred in areas with low malaria transmission or P. vivax transmission only.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings are the first contemporary estimates of the global distribution of the number of pregnancies at risk of P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria. They do not provide any information on the actual incidence of malaria during pregnancy or the health burden on mothers and unborn babies. They simply represent “any risk” of exposure. So, for example, the researchers calculate that only about 5,000 actual malaria infections may occur annually among the 70.5 million at-risk pregnancies in areas with very low malaria transmission or with P. vivax transmission only. Furthermore, these findings do not allow for the seasonality of malaria—pregnancies that occur outside of the transmission season may be at no or very low risk of malaria. Nevertheless, the estimates reported in this study are an important first step towards a spatial map of the burden of malaria in pregnancy and should help policy makers allocate resources for research into and control of this important public-health problem.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000221.
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria and on malaria in pregnancy (in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on malaria and on malaria in pregnancy (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on all aspects of global malaria control, including information on malaria in pregnancy
The Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium is undertaking research into the prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy and also provides a comprehensive bibliographic database of published and unpublished literature relating to malaria in pregnancy
The Malaria Atlas Project provides maps of malaria transmission around the world
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000221
PMCID: PMC2811150  PMID: 20126256
4.  Plasmodium vivax and Mixed Infections Are Associated with Severe Malaria in Children: A Prospective Cohort Study from Papua New Guinea  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(6):e127.
Background
Severe malaria (SM) is classically associated with Plasmodium falciparum infection. Little information is available on the contribution of P. vivax to severe disease. There are some epidemiological indications that P. vivax or mixed infections protect against complications and deaths. A large morbidity surveillance conducted in an area where the four species coexist allowed us to estimate rates of SM among patients infected with one or several species.
Methods and Findings
This was a prospective cohort study conducted within the framework of the Malaria Vaccine Epidemiology and Evaluation Project. All presumptive malaria cases presenting at two rural health facilities over an 8-y period were investigated with history taking, clinical examination, and laboratory assessment. Case definition of SM was based on the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria adapted for the setting (i.e., clinical diagnosis of malaria associated with asexual blood stage parasitaemia and recent history of fits, or coma, or respiratory distress, or anaemia [haemoglobin < 5 g/dl]). Out of 17,201 presumptive malaria cases, 9,537 (55%) had a confirmed Plasmodium parasitaemia. Among those, 6.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] 5.7%–6.8%) fulfilled the case definition of SM, most of them in children <5 y. In this age group, the proportion of SM was 11.7% (10.4%–13.2%) for P. falciparum, 8.8% (7.1%–10.7%) for P. vivax, and 17.3% (11.7%–24.2%) for mixed P. falciparum and P. vivax infections. P. vivax SM presented more often with respiratory distress than did P. falciparum (60% versus 41%, p = 0.002), but less often with anaemia (19% versus 41%, p = 0.0001).
Conclusion
P. vivax monoinfections as well as mixed Plasmodium infections are associated with SM. There is no indication that mixed infections protected against SM. Interventions targeted toward P. falciparum only might be insufficient to eliminate the overall malaria burden, and especially severe disease, in areas where P. falciparum and P. vivax coexist.
In a study carried out in Papua New Guinea, Blaise Genton and colleagues show thatPlasmodium vivax is associated with severe malaria.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Malaria is a parasitic infection that is transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes. Four different parasites cause malaria—Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae. Of these, P. vivax is the commonest and most widely distributed, whereas P. falciparum causes the most deaths. All these parasites enter their human host when an infected mosquito takes a blood meal. They then migrate to the liver where they replicate without causing any symptoms. Eight to nine days later, mature parasites are released from the liver cells and invade red blood cells. Here, they multiply rapidly before bursting out and infecting more red blood cells. The recurring flu-like symptoms of malaria are caused by this cyclical increase in parasitemia (parasites in the blood) and should be treated promptly with antimalarial drugs to prevent the development of potentially fatal complications. Infections with P. falciparum in particular can cause anemia by destroying the red blood cells and can damage vital organs (including the brain) by blocking the capillaries that supply them with blood.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is generally believed that P. vivax malaria is rarely fatal. There is even some evidence that infection with P. vivax alone (monoinfection) or with other malaria parasites (mixed infection) provides protection against malarial complications. Recently, however, there have been reports of severe disease and deaths associated with infection by P. vivax alone. Most of these reports do not indicate what proportion of severe malaria cases are caused by P. vivax infections, but if P. vivax is responsible for a significant proportion of malarial deaths, efforts to prevent these deaths will need to target P. vivax as well as P. falciparum. In this study, therefore, the researchers estimate the proportion of cases of severe malaria among patients infected with one or several Plasmodium species in Papua New Guinea, a country where all four species coexist.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled everyone attending two rural health facilities in the Wosera subdistrict of Papua New Guinea over an eight-year period with symptoms indicative of malaria but without symptoms of any other disease (presumptive malaria cases) into their prospective cohort study. They asked each patient about their symptoms, did a standard physical examination, looked for parasites in their blood, and measured their hemoglobin levels to see whether they were anemic. Out of 17,201 presumptive malaria cases, 483 had severe malaria (defined as parasitemia plus a recent history of fits, coma, breathing problems, or anemia). Most of the patients with severe malaria were less than five years old—children have little immunity to Plasmodium parasites. In this age group, 11.7% of patients infected with P. falciparum, 8.8% of patients infected with P. vivax, and 17.3% of patients infected with both parasites had severe malaria. Patients with severe malaria caused by P. vivax presented with breathing difficulties more often than those infected with P. falciparum, whereas anemia was more common among patients with severe malaria caused by P. falciparum than by P. vivax.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers use these results and data on the numbers of infections with each parasite to calculate that, in this rural region of Papua New Guinea, P. vivax is responsible for one-fifth of severe malaria cases, P. falciparum is responsible for three-quarters of cases, and the rest involve mixed P. falciparum/P. vivax infections. Put another way, these findings suggest that about one in ten children under the age of five years infected with either P. vivax or P. falciparum may develop severe malaria. These findings provide no evidence, however, that mixed infections are protective. Because the diagnosis of severe malaria was not confirmed by outcome data (deaths or permanent disability), additional, more detailed studies are needed to confirm these results. Nevertheless, these findings (and those reported separately in a related article published at the same time in PLoS Medicine) suggest that a significant proportion of the illness associated with malaria may be caused by P. vivax infections. Thus, efforts to reduce or eliminate the malarial burden must target P. vivax as well as P. falciparum in regions where these species coexist.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050127.
A PLoSMedicine Research in Translation article by Stephen Rogerson further discusses this study and a related paper on vivax malaria infection in patients attending a regional hospital in Papua, Indonesia
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has a page on malaria (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on global control of malaria and on malaria in Papua New Guinea
Vivaxmalaria provides information for the malaria research community on topics related to Plasmodiumvivax
The Malaria Vaccine Initiative also provides a fact sheet on Plasmodiumvivax malaria
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050127
PMCID: PMC2429951  PMID: 18563961
5.  Malaria Burden and Artemisinin Resistance in the Mobile and Migrant Population on the Thai–Myanmar Border, 1999–2011: An Observational Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(3):e1001398.
Francois Nosten and colleagues evaluate malaria prevalence and incidence in the mobile population on the Myanmar side of the border with Thailand between 1999 and 2011, and also assess resistance to artemisinin.
Background
The Shoklo Malaria Research Unit has been working on the Thai–Myanmar border for 25 y providing early diagnosis and treatment (EDT) of malaria. Transmission of Plasmodium falciparum has declined, but resistance to artesunate has emerged. We expanded malaria activities through EDT and evaluated the impact over a 12-y period.
Methods and Findings
Between 1 October 1999 and 30 September 2011, the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit increased the number of cross-border (Myanmar side) health facilities from two to 11 and recorded the number of malaria consultations. Changes in malaria incidence were estimated from a cohort of pregnant women, and prevalence from cross-sectional surveys. In vivo and in vitro antimalarial drug efficacy were monitored. Over this period, the number of malaria cases detected increased initially, but then declined rapidly. In children under 5 y, the percentage of consultations due to malaria declined from 78% (95% CI 76–80) (1,048/1,344 consultations) to 7% (95% CI 6.2–7.1) (767/11,542 consultations), p<0.001. The ratio of P. falciparum/P. vivax declined from 1.4 (95% CI 1.3–1.4) to 0.7 (95% CI 0.7–0.8). The case fatality rate was low (39/75,126; 0.05% [95% CI 0.04–0.07]). The incidence of malaria declined from 1.1 to 0.1 episodes per pregnant women-year. The cumulative proportion of P. falciparum decreased significantly from 24.3% (95% CI 21.0–28.0) (143/588 pregnant women) to 3.4% (95% CI 2.8–4.3) (76/2,207 pregnant women), p<0.001. The in vivo efficacy of mefloquine-artesunate declined steadily, with a sharp drop in 2011 (day-42 PCR-adjusted cure rate 42% [95% CI 20–62]). The proportion of patients still slide positive for malaria at day 3 rose from 0% in 2000 to reach 28% (95% CI 13–45) (8/29 patients) in 2011.
Conclusions
Despite the emergence of resistance to artesunate in P. falciparum, the strategy of EDT with artemisinin-based combination treatments has been associated with a reduction in malaria in the migrant population living on the Thai–Myanmar border. Although limited by its observational nature, this study provides useful data on malaria burden in a strategically crucial geographical area. Alternative fixed combination treatments are needed urgently to replace the failing first-line regimen of mefloquine and artesunate.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
According to latest figures, the World Health Organization estimates that there are over 200 million cases of malaria each year, with over three-quarters of a million deaths. Several Plasmodium parasites cause malaria (the most serious being Plasmodium falciparum) and are transmitted to people through the bites of infected night-flying mosquitoes. Malaria transmission can be prevented by using insecticides to control the mosquitoes and by sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets. However, in Southeast Asia the effectiveness of these measures is limited. Treating infected people with antimalarial drugs, particularly with artemisinin-based combination treatments (ACTs), is a key strategy in reducing the deaths and disability caused by malaria. However, progress is now threatened by the emergence in Southeast Asia of P. falciparum isolates that are resistant to artesunate (a common component of ACT). This development is concerning, as resistance to the artemisinin family of drugs, of which artesunate is a member, could trigger a resurgence in malaria in many parts of the world and compromise the progress made in the treatment of severe malaria.
Why Was This Study Done?
P. falciparum resistance to artemisinin has been confirmed in the area around the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Malaria control in this border area is particularly challenging, as there is a reservoir of malaria in Myanmar (where the disease burden is higher than in Thailand), frequent population movement, and differences in adequate control measures on the two sides of the border. In this study the authors evaluated malaria prevalence and incidence in the mobile population on the Myanmar side of the border between 1 October 1999 and 30 September 2011 to assess whether increasing access to early diagnosis and treatment with ACT was associated with a decline in the malaria burden.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) has been working on the Thai–Myanmar border for 25 years providing early diagnosis and treatment of malaria and has extended its services from two to 11 health care facilities (health posts) on the Myanmar side of the border over the past few years. In order to evaluate any changes in the malaria burden since the expansion of services, the researchers recorded the number of consultations in all SMRU clinics and health posts with confirmed malaria diagnosis and tracked changes in the prevalence of malaria in the population on the Myanmar side of the border (via cross-sectional surveys in villages). The researchers also assessed the incidence of malaria in a cohort of pregnant women living on both sides of the border and monitored antimalarial drug efficacy over this time period.
The researchers found that although the mobile population on the Thai side of the border remained constant, the population in villages covered by the clinics and health posts in the border area increased four-fold. Over the time period, the researchers found that the number of confirmed malaria cases (P. falciparum) increased initially, rising from just over 5,000 in 2000 to a peak of 13,764 in 2006, and then declined to just over 3,500 in 2011. A striking finding was the predominance of infections in young adult males (50,316/90,321; 55.7%). Encouragingly, the percentage of consultations due to malaria in children under five years fell from 78% to 7%, and the incidence of malaria declined from 1.1 to 0.1 episodes per pregnant woman-year. In addition, the proportion of patients admitted to hospital with severe disease was stable, and the number of deaths from malaria remained extremely low, with an overall case fatality rate of 0.05%. The researchers also found that the ratio of P. falciparum to P. vivax infections declined from 1.4 to 0.7, and the prevalence of P. falciparum decreased from 24.3% to 3.4%. However, worryingly, in the small number of patients undertaking drug efficacy tests, the drug efficacy of artesunate declined steadily, with the proportion of patients still infected with malaria at day 3 of treatment increasing from 0% in 2000 to 28% in 2011.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that despite the emergence of resistance to artesunate in P. falciparum, and the decline in the efficacy of ACT, the strategy of early diagnosis and treatment with ACTs has been associated with a reduction in malaria in the population living on the Thai–Myanmar border. Furthermore, these findings suggest that an aggressive strategy based on early detection and treatment of cases, combined with vector control and information, could be the way forward to eliminate malaria. Although there were only a small number of patients involved in drug efficacy tests in 2011, this study shows that alternative fixed combination treatments are needed urgently to replace the failing first-line regimen of mefloquine and artesunate.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001398.
More information about the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit is available
The World Health Organization website has more information about antimalarial drug efficacy and drug resistance
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website tells the malaria resistance story
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001398
PMCID: PMC3589269  PMID: 23472056
6.  Severity of imported malaria: protective effect of taking malaria chemoprophylaxis 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:265.
Background
Although chemoprophylaxis remains an important strategy for preventing malaria in travellers, its effectiveness may be compromised by lack of adherence. Inappropriate use of chemoprophylaxis is likely to increase the risk of acquiring malaria, but may probably also worsen the severity of imported cases. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of use of malaria chemoprophylaxis on clinical features and outcome of imported malaria.
Methods
Demographic, clinical and laboratory data of patients included in the Rotterdam Malaria Cohort between 1998 and 2011 were systematically collected and analysed. Patients were classified as self-reported compliant or non-compliant users or as non-users of chemoprophylaxis. Severe malaria was defined using the 2010 WHO criteria.
Results
Details on chemoprophylaxis were available for 559 of the 604 patients, of which 64.6% were non-users, 17.9% were inadequate users and 17.5% reported to be adequate users. The group of non-users was predominated by patients with African ethnicity, partial immunity and people visiting friends and relatives. The majority contracted Plasmodium falciparum malaria. In contrast, compliant users acquired non-falciparum malaria more frequently, had significant lower P. falciparum loads on admission, shorter duration of hospitalization and significant lower odds for severe malaria as compared with non-users. Patients with P. falciparum malaria were more likely to have taken their chemoprophylaxis less compliantly than those infected with non-P. falciparum species. Multivariate analysis showed that self-reported adequate prophylaxis and being a partially immune traveller visiting friends and relatives was associated with significantly lower odds ratio of severe malaria. In contrast, age, acquisition of malaria in West-Africa and being a non-immune tourist increased their risk significantly.
Conclusions
Compliant use of malaria chemoprophylaxis was associated with significantly lower odds ratios for severe malaria as compared with non-compliant users and non-users of chemoprophylaxis. After correction for age, gender and immunity, this protective effect of malaria chemoprophylaxis was present only in individuals who adhered compliantly to use of chemoprophylaxis. Patients with P. falciparum malaria were more likely to have used their chemoprophylaxis less compliantly than patients with non-P. falciparum malaria who were more likely to have contracted malaria in spite of compliant use of chemoprophylaxis.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-265
PMCID: PMC3734097  PMID: 23902640
Malaria; Travellers; Prophylaxis; Plasmodium falciparum; Travel; Outcome; Import; Severe; Atovaquone; Proguanil; Mefloquine; Immunity
7.  Risk of malaria in British residents returning from malarious areas. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1990;300(6723):499-503.
OBJECTIVES--To identify which British residents travelling abroad are at greatest risk of malaria infection, and to determine the efficacy of malaria chemoprophylaxis for preventing P falciparum infections in tropical Africa. DESIGN--Prospective cohort study (case-base linkage) with routine national surveillance systems. Denominators (base population) were obtained from monitoring a random sample of returning British travellers with the international passenger survey. Numerators (cases) were obtained from reports of malaria infections in British residents, through the Malaria Reference Laboratory network. SETTING--International passenger survey conducted at passport control of international airports in Britain. Malaria reports received nationally were collated centrally in London. SUBJECTS--2948 British residents (0.2%) returning to Britain in 1987 randomly selected and questioned and 1052 British residents with microscopically confirmed malaria infections in 1987, whose case reports were reviewed and on whom additional data were collected by postal survey. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Annual incidence subdivided by categories of risk. Chemoprophylactic efficacy for east and west Africa by principal regimens and compliance. RESULTS--Annual rates of reported infection per 100,000 travellers to Oceania were 4100; to west and east Africa were 375 and 172 respectively; to Latin America, the Far East, and the Middle East were 12, 2, and 1 respectively. Immigrants visiting friends and relatives in Ghana and Nigeria were at greatest risk (1303 and 952 per 100,000 respectively) in west Africa. Business travellers to Kenya experienced the highest attack rates in east Africa (465 per 100,000). Age-sex specific attack rates varied by region. No prophylaxis was reported to have been used by 23% of British visitors to west Africa, 17% to east Africa, 46% to central or southern Africa, and 58% visiting south Asia. The efficacy of chloroquine plus proguanil against P falciparum infection was 73% and 54% in west and east Africa respectively. Lower values were obtained for chloroquine alone and proguanil alone. The efficacy of Maloprim (pyrimethamine-dapsone) was 61% in west Africa, but only 9% in east Africa. Visitors to west Africa who did not comply with their chemoprophylactic regimen were at a 2.5-fold higher risk of infection than fully compliant users. Non-compliant visitors to east Africa had similar rates of infection as non-drug users. CONCLUSIONS--In 1987 chloroquine plus proguanil was the preferred chemoprophylactic regimen for P falciparum infection in Africa; antimalarial drugs must be taken regularly to be effective.
PMCID: PMC1662322  PMID: 2107927
8.  The Limits and Intensity of Plasmodium falciparum Transmission: Implications for Malaria Control and Elimination Worldwide  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(2):e38.
Background
The efficient allocation of financial resources for malaria control using appropriate combinations of interventions requires accurate information on the geographic distribution of malaria risk. An evidence-based description of the global range of Plasmodium falciparum malaria and its endemicity has not been assembled in almost 40 y. This paper aims to define the global geographic distribution of P. falciparum malaria in 2007 and to provide a preliminary description of its transmission intensity within this range.
Methods and Findings
The global spatial distribution of P. falciparum malaria was generated using nationally reported case-incidence data, medical intelligence, and biological rules of transmission exclusion, using temperature and aridity limits informed by the bionomics of dominant Anopheles vector species. A total of 4,278 spatially unique cross-sectional survey estimates of P. falciparum parasite rates were assembled. Extractions from a population surface showed that 2.37 billion people lived in areas at any risk of P. falciparum transmission in 2007. Globally, almost 1 billion people lived under unstable, or extremely low, malaria risk. Almost all P. falciparum parasite rates above 50% were reported in Africa in a latitude band consistent with the distribution of Anopheles gambiae s.s. Conditions of low parasite prevalence were also common in Africa, however. Outside of Africa, P. falciparum malaria prevalence is largely hypoendemic (less than 10%), with the median below 5% in the areas surveyed.
Conclusions
This new map is a plausible representation of the current extent of P. falciparum risk and the most contemporary summary of the population at risk of P. falciparum malaria within these limits. For 1 billion people at risk of unstable malaria transmission, elimination is epidemiologically feasible, and large areas of Africa are more amenable to control than appreciated previously. The release of this information in the public domain will help focus future resources for P. falciparum malaria control and elimination.
Combining extensive surveillance and climate data, as well as biological characteristics of Anopheles mosquitoes, Robert Snow and colleagues create a global map of risk for P. falciparum malaria.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Malaria is a parasitic disease that occurs in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. 500 million cases of malaria occur every year, and one million people, mostly children living in sub-Saharan Africa, die as a result. The parasite mainly responsible for these deaths—Plasmodium falciparum—is transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. These insects inject a life stage of the parasite called sporozoites, which invade and reproduce in human liver cells. After a few days, the liver cells release merozoites (another life stage of the parasite), which invade red blood cells. Here, they multiply before bursting out and infecting more red blood cells, causing fever and damaging vital organs. Infected red blood cells also release gametocytes, which infect mosquitoes when they take a human blood meal. In the mosquito, the gametocytes multiply and develop into sporozoites, thus completing the parasite's life cycle. Malaria can be treated with antimalarial drugs and can be prevented by controlling the mosquitoes that spread the parasite (for example, by using insecticides) and by avoiding mosquito bites (for example, by sleeping under a insecticide-treated bednet).
Why Was This Study Done?
Because malaria poses such a large global public-health burden, many national and international agencies give countries where malaria is endemic (always present) financial resources for malaria control and, where feasible, elimination. The efficient allocation of these resources requires accurate information on the geographical distribution of malaria risk, but it has been 40 years since a map of malaria risk was assembled. In this study, which is part of the Malaria Atlas Project, the researchers have generated a new global map to show where the risk of P. falciparum transmission is moderate or high (stable transmission areas where malaria is endemic) and areas where the risk of transmission is low (unstable transmission areas where sporadic outbreaks of malaria occur).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To construct their map of P. falciparum risk, the researchers collected nationally reported data on malaria cases each year and on the number of people infected in sampled communities. They also collected information about climatic conditions that affect the parasite's life cycle and consequently the likelihood of active transmission. For example, below a certain temperature, infected mosquitoes reach the end of their natural life span before the parasite has had time to turn into infectious sporozoites, which means that malaria transmission does not occur. By combining these different pieces of information with global population data, the researchers calculated that 2.37 billion people (about 35% of the world's population) live in areas where there is some risk of P. falciparum transmission, and that about 1 billion of these people live where there is a low but still present risk of malaria transmission. Furthermore, nearly all the regions where more than half of children carry P. falciparum parasites (a P. falciparum prevalence of more than 50%) are in Africa, although there are some African regions where few people are infected with P. falciparum. Outside Africa, the P. falciparum prevalence is generally below 5%.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The accuracy of this new map of the spatial distribution of P. falciparum malaria risk depends on the assumptions made in its assembly and the accuracy of the data fed into it. Nevertheless, by providing a contemporary indication of global patterns of P. falciparum malaria risk, this new map should be a valuable resource for agencies that are trying to control and eliminate malaria. (A similar map for the more common but less deadly P. vivax malaria would also be useful, but has not yet been constructed because less information is available and its biology is more complex.) Importantly, the map provides an estimate of the number of people who are living in areas where malaria transmission is low, areas where it should, in princple, be possible to use existing interventions to eliminate the parasite. In addition, it identifies large regions of Africa where the parasite might be more amenable to control and, ultimately, elimination than previously thought. Finally, with regular updates, this map will make it possible to monitor the progress of malaria control and elimination efforts.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050038.
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia contains a page on malaria (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on its approach to the global control of malaria
More information is available on global mapping of malaria risk from the Malaria Atlas Project
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050038
PMCID: PMC2253602  PMID: 18303939
9.  Major Burden of Severe Anemia from Non-Falciparum Malaria Species in Southern Papua: A Hospital-Based Surveillance Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(12):e1001575.
Ric Price and colleagues use hospital-based surveillance data to estimate the risk of severe anemia and mortality associated with endemic Plasmodium species in southern Papua, Indonesia.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The burden of anemia attributable to non-falciparum malarias in regions with Plasmodium co-endemicity is poorly documented. We compared the hematological profile of patients with and without malaria in southern Papua, Indonesia.
Methods and Findings
Clinical and laboratory data were linked for all patients presenting to a referral hospital between April 2004 and December 2012. Data were available on patient demographics, malaria diagnosis, hemoglobin concentration, and clinical outcome, but other potential causes of anemia could not be identified reliably. Of 922,120 patient episodes (837,989 as outpatients and 84,131 as inpatients), a total of 219,845 (23.8%) were associated with a hemoglobin measurement, of whom 67,696 (30.8%) had malaria. Patients with P. malariae infection had the lowest hemoglobin concentration (n = 1,608, mean = 8.93 [95% CI 8.81–9.06]), followed by those with mixed species infections (n = 8,645, mean = 9.22 [95% CI 9.16–9.28]), P. falciparum (n = 37,554, mean = 9.47 [95% CI 9.44–9.50]), and P. vivax (n = 19,858, mean = 9.53 [95% CI 9.49–9.57]); p-value for all comparisons <0.001. Severe anemia (hemoglobin <5 g/dl) was present in 8,151 (3.7%) patients. Compared to patients without malaria, those with mixed Plasmodium infection were at greatest risk of severe anemia (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 3.25 [95% CI 2.99–3.54]); AORs for severe anaemia associated with P. falciparum, P. vivax, and P. malariae were 2.11 (95% CI 2.00–2.23), 1.87 (95% CI 1.74–2.01), and 2.18 (95% CI 1.76–2.67), respectively, p<0.001. Overall, 12.2% (95% CI 11.2%–13.3%) of severe anemia was attributable to non-falciparum infections compared with 15.1% (95% CI 13.9%–16.3%) for P. falciparum monoinfections. Patients with severe anemia had an increased risk of death (AOR = 5.80 [95% CI 5.17–6.50]; p<0.001). Not all patients had a hemoglobin measurement, thus limitations of the study include the potential for selection bias, and possible residual confounding in multivariable analyses.
Conclusions
In Papua P. vivax is the dominant cause of severe anemia in early infancy, mixed P. vivax/P. falciparum infections are associated with a greater hematological impairment than either species alone, and in adulthood P. malariae, although rare, is associated with the lowest hemoglobin concentration. These findings highlight the public health importance of integrated genus-wide malaria control strategies in areas of Plasmodium co-endemicity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria—a mosquito-borne parasitic disease—is a global public health problem. Five parasites cause malaria—Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. malariae, and P. knowlesi. Of these, P. vivax is the commonest and most widely distributed, whereas P. falciparum causes the most deaths—about a million every year. All these parasites enter their human host when an infected mosquito takes a blood meal. The parasites migrate to the liver where they replicate and mature into a parasitic form known as merozoites. After 8–9 days, the merozoites are released from the liver cells and invade red blood cells where they replicate rapidly before bursting out and infecting more red blood cells. Malaria's recurring flu-like symptoms are caused by this cyclical increase in parasites in the blood. Malaria needs to be treated promptly with antimalarial drugs to prevent the development of potentially fatal complications. Infections with P. falciparum in particular can cause anemia (a reduction in red blood cell numbers) and can damage the brain and other vital organs by blocking the capillaries that supply these organs with blood.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is unclear what proportion of anemia is attributable to non-falciparum malarias in regions of the world where several species of malaria parasite are always present (Plasmodium co-endemicity). Public health officials in such regions need to know whether non-falciparum malarias are a major cause of anemia when designing malaria control strategies. If P. vivax, for example, is a major cause of anemia in an area where P. vivax and P. falciparum co-exist, then any malaria control strategies that are implemented need to take into account the biological differences between the parasites. In this hospital-based cohort study, the researchers investigate the burden of severe anemia from the endemic Plasmodium species in southern Papua, Indonesia.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used hospital record numbers to link clinical and laboratory data for patients presenting to a referral hospital in southern Papua over an 8-year period. The hemoglobin level (an indicator of anemia) was measured in about a quarter of hospital presentations (some patients attended the hospital several times). A third of the presentations who had their hemoglobin level determined (67,696 presentations) had clinical malaria. Patients with P. malariae infection had the lowest average hemoglobin concentration. Patients with mixed species, P. falciparum, and P. vivax infections had slightly higher average hemoglobin levels but all these levels were below the normal range for people living in Papua. Among the patients who had their hemoglobin status assessed, 3.7% had severe anemia. After allowing for other factors that alter the risk of anemia (“confounding” factors such as age), patients with mixed Plasmodium infection were more than three times as likely to have severe anemia as patients without malaria. Patients with P. falciparum, P. vivax, or P. malariae infections were about twice as likely to have severe anemia as patients without malaria. About 12.2% of severe anemia was attributable to non-falciparum infections, 15.1% was attributable to P. falciparum monoinfections, and P. vivax was the dominant cause of severe anemia in infancy. Finally, compared to patients without anemia, patients with severe anemia had nearly a 6-fold higher risk of death.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide a comparative assessment of the pattern of anemia associated with non-falciparum malarias in Papua and an estimate of the public health importance of these malarias. Although the accuracy of these findings may be affected by residual confounding (for example, the researchers did not consider nutritional status when calculating how much malaria infection increases the risk of anemia) and other limitations of the study design, non-falciparum malarias clearly make a major contribution to the burden of anemia in southern Papua. In particular, these findings reveal the large contribution that P. vivax makes to severe anemia in infancy, show that the hematological (blood-related) impact of P. malariae is most apparent in adulthood, and suggest, in contrast to some previous reports, that mixed P. vivax/P. falciparum infection is associated with a higher risk of severe anemia than monoinfection with either species. These findings, which need to be confirmed in other settings, highlight the public health importance of implementing integrated malaria control strategies that aim to control all Plasmodium species rather than a single species in regions of Plasmodium co-endemicity.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001575.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Gosling and Hsiang
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages); the 2012 World Malaria Report provides details of the current global malaria situation
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on malaria (in English and Spanish), including information on different Plasmodium species and a selection of personal stories about malaria
The Malaria Vaccine Initiative has fact sheets on Plasmodium falciparum malaria and on Plasmodium vivax malaria
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria and on anemia (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network on antimalarial drug resistance for P. falciparum and P. vivax
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001575
PMCID: PMC3866090  PMID: 24358031
10.  Artemisinin-Naphthoquine versus Artemether-Lumefantrine for Uncomplicated Malaria in Papua New Guinean Children: An Open-Label Randomized Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(12):e1001773.
In a randomized controlled trial Tim Davis and colleagues investigate Artemisinin-naphthoquine versus artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) with broad efficacy are needed where multiple Plasmodium species are transmitted, especially in children, who bear the brunt of infection in endemic areas. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), artemether-lumefantrine is the first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria, but it has limited efficacy against P. vivax. Artemisinin-naphthoquine should have greater activity in vivax malaria because the elimination of naphthoquine is slower than that of lumefantrine. In this study, the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of these ACTs were assessed in PNG children aged 0.5–5 y.
Methods and Findings
An open-label, randomized, parallel-group trial of artemether-lumefantrine (six doses over 3 d) and artemisinin-naphthoquine (three daily doses) was conducted between 28 March 2011 and 22 April 2013. Parasitologic outcomes were assessed without knowledge of treatment allocation. Primary endpoints were the 42-d P. falciparum PCR-corrected adequate clinical and parasitologic response (ACPR) and the P. vivax PCR-uncorrected 42-d ACPR. Non-inferiority and superiority designs were used for falciparum and vivax malaria, respectively. Because the artemisinin-naphthoquine regimen involved three doses rather than the manufacturer-specified single dose, the first 188 children underwent detailed safety monitoring. Of 2,542 febrile children screened, 267 were randomized, and 186 with falciparum and 47 with vivax malaria completed the 42-d follow-up. Both ACTs were safe and well tolerated. P. falciparum ACPRs were 97.8% and 100.0% in artemether-lumefantrine and artemisinin-naphthoquine-treated patients, respectively (difference 2.2% [95% CI −3.0% to 8.4%] versus −5.0% non-inferiority margin, p = 0.24), and P. vivax ACPRs were 30.0% and 100.0%, respectively (difference 70.0% [95% CI 40.9%–87.2%], p<0.001). Limitations included the exclusion of 11% of randomized patients with sub-threshold parasitemias on confirmatory microscopy and direct observation of only morning artemether-lumefantrine dosing.
Conclusions
Artemisinin-naphthoquine is non-inferior to artemether-lumefantrine in PNG children with falciparum malaria but has greater efficacy against vivax malaria, findings with implications in similar geo-epidemiologic settings within and beyond Oceania.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000913077
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria is a mosquito-borne parasitic disease that kills more than 600,000 people (mainly young children in sub-Saharan Africa) every year. Plasmodium falciparum causes most of these deaths, but P. vivax is the most common and most widely distributed cause of malaria outside sub-Saharan Africa. Infection with malaria parasites causes recurring flu-like symptoms and must be treated promptly with antimalarial drugs to prevent the development of anemia and potentially fatal damage to the brain and other organs. In the past, malaria was treated with “monotherapies” such as chloroquine, but the parasites quickly developed resistance to many of these inexpensive drugs. The World Health Organization now recommends artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) for first-line treatment of malaria in all regions where there is drug-resistant malaria. In ACT, artemisinin derivatives (fast-acting antimalarial drugs that are rapidly cleared from the body) are used in combination with a slower acting, more slowly eliminated partner drug to prevent reemergence of the original infection and to reduce the chances of the malaria parasites becoming resistant to either drug.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because falciparum and vivax malaria respond differently to antimalarial drugs, wherever there is transmission of both types of malaria but limited facilities for species-specific malaria diagnosis—as in Papua New Guinea—compromises have to be made about which ACT should be used for the treatment of malaria. Thus, Papua New Guinea's national guidelines recommend artemether-lumefantrine, which is effective against the more deadly P. falciparum, for first-line treatment of uncomplicated (mild) malaria even though this ACT is ineffective against the more common P. vivax. In this open-label randomized trial (a study in which participants are randomly assigned to receive different drugs but know which drug they are being given), the researchers ask whether an alternative ACT might be preferable for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in young children in Papua New Guinea by comparing outcomes after treatment with artemether-lumefantrine versus artemisinin-naphthoquine (an ACT that should be more effective against vivax malaria than artemether-lumefantrine because naphthoquine stays in the body longer than lumefantrine). Specifically, the researchers test the non-inferiority of artemisinin-naphthoquine compared to artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of falciparum malaria (whether artemisinin-naphthoquine is not worse than artemether-lumefantrine) and the superiority of artemisinin-naphthoquine compared to artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of vivax malaria (whether artemisinin-naphthoquine is better than artemether-lumefantrine).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assigned nearly 250 children (aged 0.5 to 5 years) with falciparum malaria, vivax malaria, or both types of malaria to receive six doses of artemether-lumefantrine over three days or three daily doses of artemisinin-naphthoquine. They then followed the children to see how many children in each treatment group and with each type of malaria were free of malaria 42 days after treatment (an “adequate clinical and parasitological response”). Among the patients originally infected with P. falciparum, 97.8% of those treated with artemether-lumefantrine and 100% of those treated with artemisinin-naphthoquine were clear of their original P. falciparum infection (though some had acquired a new P. falciparum infection) 42 days after treatment. By contrast, among the patients infected with P. vivax, 30% of those treated with artemether-lumefantrine and 100% of those treated with artemisinin-naphthoquine were clear of P. vivax infection 42 days after treatment. Both ACTs were safe and well tolerated.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that artemisinin-naphthoquine was non-inferior to artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria among young children in Papua New Guinea and had greater efficacy than artemether-lumefantrine against vivax malaria. The accuracy of these findings may be limited by several aspects of the study design. For example, not all the artemether-lumefantrine doses were directly observed, so some children may not have received the full treatment course. Moreover, because all the study participants lived in coastal communities in Papua New Guinea where malaria is highly endemic, treatment responses among children living in areas with lower levels of malaria transmission might be different. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that artemisinin-naphthoquine should be considered alongside other ACTs for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in regions where there is transmission of multiple Plasmodium species and that artemisinin-naphthoquine may be better than artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in young children in regions where P. vivax predominates.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001773.
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages); the World Malaria Report 2013 provides details on the current global malaria situation, including information on malaria in Papua New Guinea; the World Health Organization's Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria is available
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on malaria (in English and Spanish), including personal stories about malaria
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on the global control of malaria, including information about malaria in Papua New Guinea, malaria in children, and ACTs
The Malaria Vaccine Initiative has a fact sheet on Plasmodium vivax malaria
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
More information about this trial is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001773
PMCID: PMC4280121  PMID: 25549086
11.  The incidence of malaria in travellers to South-East Asia: is local malaria transmission a useful risk indicator? 
Malaria Journal  2010;9:266.
Background
The presence of ongoing local malaria transmission, identified though local surveillance and reported to regional WHO offices, by S-E Asian countries, forms the basis of national and international chemoprophylaxis recommendations in western countries. The study was designed to examine whether the strategy of using malaria transmission in a local population was an accurate estimate of the malaria threat faced by travellers and a correlate of malaria in returning travellers.
Methods
Malaria endemicity was described from distribution and intensity in the local populations of ten S-E Asian destination countries over the period 2003-2008 from regionally reported cases to WHO offices. Travel acquired malaria was collated from malaria surveillance reports from the USA and 12 European countries over the same period. The numbers of travellers visiting the destination countries was based on immigration and tourism statistics collected on entry of tourists to the destination countries.
Results
In the destination countries, mean malaria rates in endemic countries ranged between 0.01 in Korea to 4:1000 population per year in Lao PDR, with higher regional rates in a number of countries. Malaria cases imported into the 13 countries declined by 47% from 140 cases in 2003 to 66 in 2008. A total of 608 cases (27.3% Plasmodium falciparum (Pf)) were reported over the six years, the largest number acquired in Indonesia, Thailand and Korea. Four countries had an incidence > 1 case per 100,000 traveller visits; Burma (Myanmar), Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos (range 1 to 11.8-case per 100,000 visits). The remaining six countries rates were < 1 case per 100,000 visits. The number of visitors arriving from source countries increased by 60% from 8.5 Million to 13.6 million over the 6 years.
Conclusion
The intensity of malaria transmission particularly sub-national activity did not correlate with the risk of travellers acquiring malaria in the large numbers of arriving visitors. It is proposed to use a threshold incidence of > 1 case per 100,000 visits to consider targeted malaria prophylaxis recommendations to minimize use of chemoprophylaxis for low risk exposure during visits to S-E Asia. Policy needs to be adjusted regularly to reflect the changing risk.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-266
PMCID: PMC2959067  PMID: 20920352
12.  Worldwide Incidence of Malaria in 2009: Estimates, Time Trends, and a Critique of Methods 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(12):e1001142.
Richard Cibulskis and colleagues present estimates of the worldwide incidence of malaria in 2009, together with a critique of different estimation methods, including those based on risk maps constructed from surveys of parasite prevalence, and those based on routine case reports compiled by health ministries.
Background
Measuring progress towards Millennium Development Goal 6, including estimates of, and time trends in, the number of malaria cases, has relied on risk maps constructed from surveys of parasite prevalence, and on routine case reports compiled by health ministries. Here we present a critique of both methods, illustrated with national incidence estimates for 2009.
Methods and Findings
We compiled information on the number of cases reported by National Malaria Control Programs in 99 countries with ongoing malaria transmission. For 71 countries we estimated the total incidence of Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax by adjusting the number of reported cases using data on reporting completeness, the proportion of suspects that are parasite-positive, the proportion of confirmed cases due to each Plasmodium species, and the extent to which patients use public sector health facilities. All four factors varied markedly among countries and regions. For 28 African countries with less reliable routine surveillance data, we estimated the number of cases from model-based methods that link measures of malaria transmission with case incidence. In 2009, 98% of cases were due to P. falciparum in Africa and 65% in other regions. There were an estimated 225 million malaria cases (5th–95th centiles, 146–316 million) worldwide, 176 (110–248) million in the African region, and 49 (36–68) million elsewhere. Our estimates are lower than other published figures, especially survey-based estimates for non-African countries.
Conclusions
Estimates of malaria incidence derived from routine surveillance data were typically lower than those derived from surveys of parasite prevalence. Carefully interpreted surveillance data can be used to monitor malaria trends in response to control efforts, and to highlight areas where malaria programs and health information systems need to be strengthened. As malaria incidence declines around the world, evaluation of control efforts will increasingly rely on robust systems of routine surveillance.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. According to latest estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2009, there were 225 million cases of malaria and an estimated 781,000 deaths worldwide—most deaths occurring among children living in the WHO African Region (mainly sub-Saharan Africa). Knowing the burden of malaria in any country is an essential component of public health planning and accurately estimating the global burden is essential to monitor progress towards the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals.
Currently, there are generally two approaches used to estimate malaria incidence:
One method uses routine surveillance reports of malaria cases compiled by national health ministries, which are analyzed to take into account some deficincies in data collection, such as incomplete reporting by health facilities, the potential for overdiagnosis of malaria among patients with fever, and the use of private health facilities or none at all. The second method uses population-based surveys of Plasmodium prevalence and case incidence from selected locations in malaria endemic areas and then uses this information to generate risk maps and to estimate the case incidence of malaria per 1,000 population, for all of the world's malaria endemic regions. The Malaria Atlas Project—a database of malaria epidemiology based on medical intelligence and satellite-derived climate data—uses this second method.
Why Was This Study Done?
In order for malaria epidemiology to be as accurate as possible, an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of both methods is necessary. In this study, the researchers analyzed the merits of the estimates calculated by using the different approaches, to highlight areas in which both methods need to be improved to provide better assessments of malaria control.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers estimated the number of malaria cases in 2009, for each of the 99 countries with ongoing malaria transmission using a combination of the two methods. The researchers used the first method for 56 malaria endemic countries outside the WHO African Region, and for nine African countries which had the quality of data necessary to calculate estimates using the researchers statistical model—which the researchers devised to take the upper and lower limits of case detection into account. The researchers used the second method for 34 countries in the African Region to classify malaria risk into low-transmission and high-transmission categories, and then to derive incidence rates for populations from observational studies conducted in populations in which there were no malaria control activities. For both methods, the researchers conducted a statistical analysis to determine the range of uncertainty.
The researchers found that using a combination of methods there was a combined total of 225 million malaria cases, in the 99 countries malaria endemic countries—the majority of cases (78%) were in the WHO African region, followed by the Southeast Asian (15%) and Eastern Mediterranean regions. In Africa, there were 214 cases per 1,000 population, compared with 23 per 1,000 in the Eastern Mediterranean region, and 19 per 1,000 in the Southeast Asia region. Sixteen countries accounted for 80% of all estimated cases globally—all but two countries were in the African region. The researchers found that despite the differences between methods 1 and 2, the ratio of the upper and lower limit for country estimates was approximately the same.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Using the combined methods, the incidence of malaria was estimated to be lower than previous estimates, particularly outside of Africa. Nevertheless the methods suggest that malaria surveillance systems currently miss the majority of cases, detecting less than 10% of those estimated to occur globally. Although the best assessment of malaria burden and trends should rely on a combination of surveillance and survey data, accurate surveillance is the ultimate goal for malaria control programs, especially as routine surveillance has advantages for estimating case incidence, spatially and through time. However, as the researchers have identified in this study, strengthening surveillance requires a critical evaluation of inherent errors and these errors must be adequately addressed in order to have confidence in estimates of malaria burden and trends, and therefore, the return on investments for malaria control programs.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001142.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Ivo Mueller and colleagues
The WHO provides information on malaria and produces the World Malaria Report each year, summarizing global progress in malaria control
More information is available on The Malaria Atlas Project
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001142
PMCID: PMC3243721  PMID: 22205883
13.  Declining incidence of imported malaria in the Netherlands, 2000-2007 
Malaria Journal  2010;9:300.
Background
To describe the epidemiology and trends of imported malaria in the Netherlands from 2000 through 2007.
Methods
Based on national surveillance data regarding all reported infections of imported malaria, diagnosed 2000 through 2007, incidence and trends of imported malaria in the Netherlands were estimated. Travellers statistics were used to estimate incidence, and data on malaria chemoprophylaxis prescriptions were used to estimate the number of unprotected travellers.
Results
Importation of malaria to the Netherlands is declining even as more travellers visit malaria-endemic countries. On average, 82% were acquired in sub-Saharan Africa, and 75% were caused by Plasmodium falciparum. The overall incidence in imported falciparum malaria fell from 21.5 to 6.6/10,000 of unprotected travellers. The percentage of unprotected travellers rose from 47% to 52% of all travellers. The incidence of imported falciparum infections is greatest from Middle and West Africa, and decreased from 121.3 to 36.5/10,000 travellers. The import of malaria from this region by immigrants visiting friends and relatives (VFR) decreased from 138 infections in 2000, to 69 infections in 2007.
Conclusion
The annual number of imported malaria shows a continuing declining trend, even with an increasing number of travellers visiting malaria endemic countries. VFR import less malaria than previously, and contribute largely to the declining incidence seen. The decline is not readily explained by increased use of chemoprophylaxis and may reflect a reduced risk of infection due to decreasing local malaria transmission as observed in some malaria endemic areas. Nevertheless, the increasing number of unprotected travellers remains worrisome.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-300
PMCID: PMC2988037  PMID: 21029424
14.  Declining incidence of malaria imported into the UK from West Africa 
Malaria Journal  2008;7:235.
Background
Two thirds of all falciparum malaria cases reported in the United Kingdom (UK) are acquired in West Africa (WA). To ensure recommendations and guidelines for malaria prophylaxis in travellers to West Africa correlate to the risk of infection, a study was undertaken to examine recent trends and predict future patterns of imported malaria acquired by UK residents visiting West Africa and West African visitors to the UK between 1993 and 2006.
Methods and Results
Using passenger numbers and malaria surveillance reports, the data revealed a 2.3-fold increase in travel to West Africa with a five-fold increase in travelers visiting friends and relatives (VFR). Malaria incidence fell through the study period, the greatest decline noted in VFR with a fall from 196 cases/1,000 person-years to 52 cases/1,000 person-years, 9.8% per year p < 0.0001. The risk for travellers from the UK visiting for other reasons declined 2.7 fold, at an annual decrease of 7.0%, with the incidence in West African visitors to the UK falling by 2.3 fold, a rate of 7.9% annually.
Discussion
The reduction in incidence among all three groups of travellers may be explained by several factors; changing chemoprophylaxis usage and/or increased travel in urban areas where malaria risk has declined over the past decade, or widespread reduction in malaria transmission in West Africa.
Conclusion
With the reduction in malaria incidence seen in both visitors to and from West Africa, the most rational explanation for these findings is a fall in malaria transmission in West Africa, which may require a change in chemoprophylaxis policy for UK travelers over the next 5–10 years.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-7-235
PMCID: PMC2613412  PMID: 19000299
15.  Reduced Risk of Plasmodium vivax Malaria in Papua New Guinean Children with Southeast Asian Ovalocytosis in Two Cohorts and a Case-Control Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(9):e1001305.
Ivo Mueller and colleagues examined the association of Southeast Asian ovalocytosis with Plasmodium vivax infection by genotyping 1975 children enrolled in three independent epidemiological studies conducted in the Madang area of Papua New Guinea and assessing P. vivax infection and disease in the children.
Background
The erythrocyte polymorphism, Southeast Asian ovalocytosis (SAO) (which results from a 27-base pair deletion in the erythrocyte band 3 gene, SLC4A1Δ27) protects against cerebral malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum; however, it is unknown whether this polymorphism also protects against P. vivax infection and disease.
Methods and Findings
The association between SAO and P. vivax infection was examined through genotyping of 1,975 children enrolled in three independent epidemiological studies conducted in the Madang area of Papua New Guinea. SAO was associated with a statistically significant 46% reduction in the incidence of clinical P. vivax episodes (adjusted incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 0.54, 95% CI 0.40–0.72, p<0.0001) in a cohort of infants aged 3–21 months and a significant 52% reduction in P. vivax (blood-stage) reinfection diagnosed by PCR (95% CI 22–71, p = 0.003) and 55% by light microscopy (95% CI 13–77, p = 0.014), respectively, in a cohort of children aged 5–14 years. SAO was also associated with a reduction in risk of P. vivax parasitaemia in children 3–21 months (1,111/µl versus 636/µl, p = 0.011) and prevalence of P. vivax infections in children 15–21 months (odds ratio [OR] = 0.39, 95% CI 0.23–0.67, p = 0.001). In a case-control study of children aged 0.5–10 years, no child with SAO was found among 27 cases with severe P. vivax or mixed P. falciparum/P. vivax malaria (OR = 0, 95% CI 0–1.56, p = 0.11). SAO was associated with protection against severe P. falciparum malaria (OR = 0.38, 95% CI 0.15–0.87, p = 0.014) but no effect was seen on either the risk of acquiring blood-stage infections or uncomplicated episodes with P. falciparum. Although Duffy antigen receptor expression and function were not affected on SAO erythrocytes compared to non-SAO children, high level (>90% binding inhibition) P. vivax Duffy binding protein–specific binding inhibitory antibodies were observed significantly more often in sera from SAO than non-SAO children (SAO, 22.2%; non-SAO, 6.7%; p = 0.008).
Conclusions
In three independent studies, we observed strong associations between SAO and protection against P. vivax malaria by a mechanism that is independent of the Duffy antigen. P. vivax malaria may have contributed to shaping the unique host genetic adaptations to malaria in Asian and Oceanic populations.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
Hereditary blood disorders are widely prevalent in different regions around the world and the type of disorder depends on the population gene pool. For example, sickle cell disease is indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asian ovalocytosis (SAO), as the name suggests, to Southeast Asia and the South West Pacific, particularly Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. In SAO, the red blood cells (erythrocytes) are a different shape (elliptical) from the usual biconcave disc shape due to a genetic defect (caused by band 3 deletion SLC4A1Δ27) in the red blood cell membrane. This defect is carried by up to 35% of people living on the coasts of Papua New Guinea, and as these areas match high malaria endemic areas, it is thought that carrying this defect is associated with improved survival against malaria in these populations—some studies have suggested that SAO is associated with complete protection against cerebral malaria but not other forms of malaria caused by the same type of parasite—P. falciparum.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although P. falciparum gains most attention by the international health community as it causes the most severe types of malaria, recent epidemiological studies suggest that malaria caused by P. vivax can also cause severe illness in some areas of the world where it is highly prevalent. Furthermore, detailed genetic and laboratory studies have suggested that the genetic defect associated with SAO may actually protect against infection from P. vivax malaria. So in this study, the researchers examined the relationship of the SAO genetic defect and P. vivax malaria by doing genetic tests on children in Papua New Guinea—an area in which both conditions are widely prevalent.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers performed genetic tests for the SAO defect in 1,975 children in the Madang area of Papua New Guinea who were participating in three separate malaria studies that were conducted over different time periods: (i) a cohort of 1,121 infants aged 3–21 months participating in a clinical drug trial of intermittent preventative treatment of malaria; (ii) a case-control study of 318 children with severe malaria aged 10 years and under; and (iii) a cohort of 206 children aged 5–14 years who took part in a prospective study to evaluate the time of reinfection with all forms of malaria. Given the different nature of these studies, for example, the effect of intermittent treatment for which the researchers had to make statistical adjustments, the researchers analysed the presence of the SAO genetic defect and the incidence of all forms of malaria separately to calculate the association with SAO and malaria in the participants in each study.
The researchers found that the SAO genetic defect present in 130 infants (11.6%) in the first study and 27 (13.1%) children in the third study. In the case-control study, the researchers found that 28 of the 330 controls (8.5%) had the SAO genetic defect compared to eight of 236 (3.4%) in children with P. falciparum single infections. Overall, the researchers found that the SAO genetic defect was associated with a 43% reduction in risk of clinical P. vivax episodes in the infants in the first study and a 52%–55% reduction in P. vivax reinfection in children in the third study. Furthermore, from the limited data from the second study, the researchers found that none of the children with P. vivax or mixed P. falciparum/P. vivax malaria had the SAO defect, which may indicate a protective effect.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the SAO genetic defect (SLC4A1Δ27) may have a protective effect against malaria caused by P. vivax in infants and children of different ages in Papua New Guinea. However, although it seems likely that SAO may alter the ability of the malarial parasite to develop within the red blood cell, this study sheds no further light on the way in which the SAO genetic defect may protect against P. vivax infection and disease and so further studies are needed to investigate possible mechanisms. Importantly, these findings suggest that future studies investigating genetic adaptation of diverse populations around the world, particularly in the Asian Pacific region, should include all forms of human malaria, such as P. vivax, and not exclusively focus on P. falciparum.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001305.
Wikipedia has information on Southeast Asian Ovalocytosis (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
WHO provides information on malaria
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria and on ovalocytosis
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001305
PMCID: PMC3433408  PMID: 22973182
16.  Trends in imported childhood malaria in the UK: 1999–2003 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2006;91(11):911-914.
Objective
To describe the epidemiology of imported malaria in children in the UK.
Methods
Surveillance data on children with imported malaria, collected through an enhanced surveillance network set up by the Malaria Reference Laboratory (London, UK), diagnosed between January 1999 and December 2003 were analysed.
Results
Over the 5‐year study period, 9238 cases were reported to the Malaria Reference Laboratory, and children accounted for 1456 (14.8%) cases. The number of imported paediatric malaria cases fell from 326 in 1999 to 241 in 2003. Malarial infection occurred in children of all ages and the number of patients increased gradually with age. Visiting family and relatives was the most common reason for travel (59.5%), with only 7.2% travelling to an area endemic to malaria on holiday. Most infections (88.4%) were acquired in Africa, and mainly in Nigeria (49.7%). Plasmodium falciparum was responsible for 81.7% of all cases, followed by P vivax (11.1%). The number of both P falciparum and P vivax cases fell gradually from 262 and 45 cases in 1999 to 196 and 20 cases in 2003, respectively. Malaria prophylaxis was taken by 39% of 500 children with malaria who had travelled to a country endemic to malaria. The proportion of children with malaria who had taken malaria prophylaxis decreased steadily from 53% in 1999 to 29% in 2003. Two (0.14%) children died compared with 62 (0.76%) adults over the 5‐year study period (p = 0.007).
Conclusions
Although the incidence of malaria has started to decline, a considerable number of children are still diagnosed with malaria in the UK. In addition, the proportion of children with malaria who had taken malaria prophylaxis is falling. Although it is reassuring to note the low mortality, there is an urgent need to improve preventive measures among families travelling to high‐risk countries.
doi:10.1136/adc.2005.089433
PMCID: PMC2082935  PMID: 16807269
17.  G6PD Deficiency Prevalence and Estimates of Affected Populations in Malaria Endemic Countries: A Geostatistical Model-Based Map 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(11):e1001339.
Rosalind Howes and colleagues present a map of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency prevalence and severity. Individuals with the deficiency are at risk of mild to severe hemolysis when taking the antimalarial primaquine.
Background
Primaquine is a key drug for malaria elimination. In addition to being the only drug active against the dormant relapsing forms of Plasmodium vivax, primaquine is the sole effective treatment of infectious P. falciparum gametocytes, and may interrupt transmission and help contain the spread of artemisinin resistance. However, primaquine can trigger haemolysis in patients with a deficiency in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDd). Poor information is available about the distribution of individuals at risk of primaquine-induced haemolysis. We present a continuous evidence-based prevalence map of G6PDd and estimates of affected populations, together with a national index of relative haemolytic risk.
Methods and Findings
Representative community surveys of phenotypic G6PDd prevalence were identified for 1,734 spatially unique sites. These surveys formed the evidence-base for a Bayesian geostatistical model adapted to the gene's X-linked inheritance, which predicted a G6PDd allele frequency map across malaria endemic countries (MECs) and generated population-weighted estimates of affected populations. Highest median prevalence (peaking at 32.5%) was predicted across sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Although G6PDd prevalence was generally lower across central and southeast Asia, rarely exceeding 20%, the majority of G6PDd individuals (67.5% median estimate) were from Asian countries. We estimated a G6PDd allele frequency of 8.0% (interquartile range: 7.4–8.8) across MECs, and 5.3% (4.4–6.7) within malaria-eliminating countries. The reliability of the map is contingent on the underlying data informing the model; population heterogeneity can only be represented by the available surveys, and important weaknesses exist in the map across data-sparse regions. Uncertainty metrics are used to quantify some aspects of these limitations in the map. Finally, we assembled a database of G6PDd variant occurrences to inform a national-level index of relative G6PDd haemolytic risk. Asian countries, where variants were most severe, had the highest relative risks from G6PDd.
Conclusions
G6PDd is widespread and spatially heterogeneous across most MECs where primaquine would be valuable for malaria control and elimination. The maps and population estimates presented here reflect potential risk of primaquine-associated harm. In the absence of non-toxic alternatives to primaquine, these results represent additional evidence to help inform safe use of this valuable, yet dangerous, component of the malaria-elimination toolkit.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria is a parasitic infection that is transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Of the four parasites that cause malaria, Plasmodium falciparum is the most deadly and P. vivax is the commonest and most widely distributed. Malaria parasites have a complex life cycle. Infected mosquitoes inject “sporozoites” into people, a form of the parasite that replicates inside human liver cells. After a few days, the liver cells release “merozoites,” which invade red blood cells where they replicate rapidly before bursting out and infecting other red blood cells. This increase in the parasitic burden causes malaria's characteristic fever and can cause organ damage and death. Infected red blood cells also release “gametocytes,” which infect mosquitoes when they take a blood meal. In the mosquito, gametocytes multiply and develop into sporozoites, thus completing the parasite's life cycle. Malaria can be prevented by controlling the mosquitoes that spread the parasite and by avoiding mosquito bites by sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets. Treatment with effective antimalarial drugs also decreases malaria transmission.
Why Was This Study Done?
The Global Malaria Action Plan aims to reduce malaria deaths to zero by 2015 and to eradicate malaria in the long-term through its progressive elimination in malaria-endemic countries (countries where malaria is always present). Primaquine is a key drug for malaria elimination. It is the only treatment effective against the gametocytes that transmit malaria between people and mosquitoes and against P. vivax “hypnozoites,” which hibernate in the liver and cause malaria relapses. Unfortunately, primaquine induces mild to severe destruction of red blood cells (hemolysis) in people who have a deficiency in the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD). G6PD deficiency (G6PDd) is common in some ethnic groups but the global distribution of individuals at risk of primaquine-induced hemolysis is unknown and there is no practical field test for G6PDd. Consequently, it is hard to design and implement primaquine treatment practices that balance the benefits of malaria transmission reduction and relapse prevention against the risk of hemolysis. Here, the researchers use a geostatistical model to map the prevalence (frequency in a population) of G6PDd in malaria-endemic countries and to estimate how many people are affected in these countries. They also develop a national index of relative hemolytic risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers fed data from community surveys of the prevalence of phenotypic G6PDd (reduced enzyme activity) for 1,734 sites (including 1,289 sites in malaria-endemic countries) into a geostatistical model originally developed to map global malaria endemicity. The model predicted that G6PDd is widespread across malaria-endemic regions, with the lowest prevalences in the Americas and the highest in tropical Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, but that most G6PDd individuals live in Asian countries. The predicted prevalence of G6PDd varied considerably over relatively short distances in many areas but, averaged across malaria-endemic countries it was 8%, which corresponds to about 350 million affected individuals; averaged across countries that are currently planning for malaria elimination, the prevalence was 5.3% (nearly 100 million affected individuals). Finally, the researchers used data on the geographical occurrence of G6PD variants classified according to their enzyme activity levels as mild or severe to derive an index of hemolytic risk from G6PDd for each malaria-endemic country. The greatest risk was in the Arabian Peninsula and west Asia where the predicted prevalence of G6PDd and the occurrence of severe G6PD variants were both high.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that G6PDd is widespread and spatially heterogeneous across most of the malaria-endemic countries where primaquine would be valuable for malaria control and elimination. The accuracy of these findings is limited, however, by the assumptions made in the geostatistical model, by the accuracy of the data fed into the model, and by the lack of data for some malaria-endemic countries. Moreover, there is considerable uncertainty associated with the proposed index of hemolysis risk because it is based on phenotypic G6PDd enzyme activity classifications, which is presumed, but not widely demonstrated, to be a surrogate marker for hemolysis. Nevertheless, these findings pave the way for further data collection and for the refinement of G6PDd maps that, in the absence of non-toxic alternatives to primaquine, will guide the design of safe primaquine regimens for the elimination of malaria.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001339.
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria; its 2011 World Malaria Report provides details of the current global malaria situation (some information is available in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on malaria (in English and Spanish), including a selection of personal stories about malaria
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on the global control of malaria and on the Global Malaria Action Plan
Information on the global mapping of malaria is available at the Malaria Atlas Project website where G6PD deficiency prevalence maps, population estimates and the data used in this study can also be accessed
Information about G6PD deficiency for affected families can be found on KidsHealth from the Nemous Children's Health System and the G6PD Deficiency Association website
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria; the MedlinePlus Encyclopedia provides information about G6PD deficiency (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001339
PMCID: PMC3496665  PMID: 23152723
18.  The Impact of Phenotypic and Genotypic G6PD Deficiency on Risk of Plasmodium vivax Infection: A Case-Control Study amongst Afghan Refugees in Pakistan 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000283.
Analyses of a case-control study among Afghan refugees in Pakistan find that a G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) “Mediterranean” type deficiency confers substantial protection against Plasmodium vivax malaria.
Background
The most common form of malaria outside Africa, Plasmodium vivax, is more difficult to control than P. falciparum because of the latent liver hypnozoite stage, which causes multiple relapses and provides an infectious reservoir. The African (A−) G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency confers partial protection against severe P. falciparum. Recent evidence suggests that the deficiency also confers protection against P. vivax, which could explain its wide geographical distribution in human populations. The deficiency has a potentially serious interaction with antirelapse therapies (8-aminoquinolines such as primaquine). If the level of protection was sufficient, antirelapse therapy could become more widely available. We therefore tested the hypothesis that G6PD deficiency is protective against vivax malaria infection.
Methods and Findings
A case-control study design was used amongst Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The frequency of phenotypic and genotypic G6PD deficiency in individuals with vivax malaria was compared against controls who had not had malaria in the previous two years. Phenotypic G6PD deficiency was less common amongst cases than controls (cases: 4/372 [1.1%] versus controls 42/743 [5.7%]; adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.18 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.06–0.52], p = 0.001). Genetic analysis demonstrated that the G6PD deficiency allele identified (Mediterranean type) was associated with protection in hemizygous deficient males (AOR = 0.12 [95% CI 0.02–0.92], p = 0.041). The deficiency was also protective in females carrying the deficiency gene as heterozygotes or homozygotes (pooled AOR = 0.37 [95% CI 0.15–0.94], p = 0.037).
Conclusions
G6PD deficiency (Mediterranean type) conferred significant protection against vivax malaria infection in this population whether measured by phenotype or genotype, indicating a possible evolutionary role for vivax malaria in the selective retention of the G6PD deficiency trait in human populations. Further work is required on the genotypic protection associated with other types of G6PD deficiency and on developing simple point-of-care technologies to detect it before administering antirelapse therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria is a parasitic infection transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. Although Plasmodium falciparum is responsible for most malaria deaths, P. vivax is the commonest, most widespread cause of malaria outside sub-Saharan Africa. Like other malaria parasites, P. vivax has a complex life cycle. Infected mosquitoes inject a parasitic form known as sporozoites into people where they replicate inside liver cells without causing symptoms. About 8–9 days later, merozoites (another parasitic form) are released from the liver cells and invade red blood cells. Here, they replicate rapidly before bursting out and infecting more red blood cells. This increase in the parasitic burden causes malaria's characteristic symptoms (debilitating and recurring chills and fevers). P. vivax infections are usually treated with chloroquine (although resistance to this drug is now emerging) but patients must also take primaquine, a drug that kills hypnozoites, a form of P. vivax that hibernates in the liver. Hypnozoites can cause a relapse months after the initial bout of malaria and make P. vivax malaria harder to control than P. faciparum malaria.
Why Was This Study Done?
Some mutations (DNA changes) protect their human carriers against specific disease-causing organisms. These mutations occur at high frequencies in populations where these organisms are common. For example, the widespread distribution of mutations that cause a deficiency in an enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) mirrors the distribution of malaria and the African (A−) form of G6PD deficiency, a type of G6PD deficiency that is common in people of African origin, is known to provide partial protection against severe P. falciparum malaria—P. falciparum does not thrive in G6PD-deficient red blood cells. In areas where P. vivax malaria is common, Mediterranean and Asian variants of G6PD deficiency are more widespread than A− G6PD, so the question is, do these variants protect against P. vivax malaria? In this case-control study (a study in which the characteristics of people with and without a specific condition are compared), the researchers investigate whether G6PD deficiency protects against P. vivax infection in a population of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 372 Afghan refugees who had had P. vivax malaria during the previous two years and 743 refugees who had not had malaria over the same period. They measured G6PD activity in the participants' blood to detect “phenotypic” G6PD deficiency (reduced enzyme activity) and looked for the Mediterranean variant of the G6PD gene in the participants (“genotypic” G6PD deficiency). 5.7% of the controls but only 1.1% of the cases had phenotypic G6PD deficiency. Statistical analyses indicated that participants with reduced G6PD levels were about one-fifth as likely to develop P. vivax malaria as those with normal G6PD levels after allowing for other factors that might affect their susceptibility to malaria, an adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of 0.18. The genetic analysis indicated that the Mediterranean G6PD gene variant provided protection against P. vivax infection in men (AOR 0.12) and in women carrying either one or two defective copies of the G6PD gene (AOR 0.37); because the G6PD gene is on the X chromosome, men have only one copy of the gene but women have two copies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that Mediterranean-type G6PD deficiency protects against P. vivax malaria infection in this population of Afghan refugees. Although further studies are needed to determine whether other G6PD variants protect against P. vivax malaria, these findings suggest that P. vivax malaria might be responsible for the retention of the G6PD deficiency trait in some human populations. In addition, these findings may have implications for the treatment of P. vivax malaria. Currently, in most places where P. vivax malaria is common, primaquine is not given routinely because primaquine can trigger red blood cell death (hemolytic anemia) in G6PD-deficient people and tests for G6PD deficiency are rarely available. These findings suggest that the risk of exposure to primaquine among people infected with P. vivax might be lower than previously assumed, because G6PD deficiency is less common among P. vivax-infected patients than among the general population. Nevertheless, these findings are unlikely to increase the use of primaquine immediately. Such an increase, the researchers suggest, will only occur if a simple test for G6PD deficiency is developed.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000283.
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the Wellcome Trust on all aspects of malaria, including a news item about G6PD deficiency protecting against severe P. falciparum malaria
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
The Malaria Vaccine Initiative has a fact sheet on Plasmodium vivax malaria
Vivaxmalaria provides information about P. vivax
More about G6PD deficiency can be found on KidsHealth from the Nemours Children's Health System
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000283
PMCID: PMC2876136  PMID: 20520804
19.  Spatiotemporal Dynamics and Demographic Profiles of Imported Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax Infections in Ontario, Canada (1990–2009) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e76208.
We examined malaria cases reported to Ontario’s public health surveillance systems from 1990 through 2009 to determine how temporal scale (longitudinal, seasonal), spatial scale (provincial, health unit), and demography (gender, age) contribute to Plasmodium infection in Ontario travellers. Our retrospective study included 4,551 confirmed cases of imported malaria reported throughout Ontario, with additional analysis at the local health unit level (i.e., Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto). During the 20-year period, Plasmodium vivax accounted for 50.6% of all cases, P. falciparum (38.6%), Plasmodium sp. (6.0%), P. ovale (3.1%), and P. malariae (1.8%). During the first ten years of the study (1990–1999), P. vivax (64% of all cases) was the dominant agent, followed by P. falciparum (28%); however, during the second ten years (2000–2009) the situation reversed and P. falciparum (55%) dominated, followed by P. vivax (30%). The prevalence of P. falciparum and P. vivax cases varied spatially (e.g., P. falciparum more prevalent in Toronto, P. vivax more prevalent in Peel), temporally (e.g. P. falciparum incidence increased during the 20-year study), and demographically (e.g. preponderance of male cases). Infection rates per 100,000 international travellers were estimated: rates of infection were 2× higher in males compared to females; rates associated with travel to Africa were 37× higher compared to travel to Asia and 126× higher compared to travel to the Americas; rates of infection were 2.3–3.5× higher in June and July compared to October through March; and rates of infection were highest in those 65–69 years old. Where exposure country was reported, 71% of P. falciparum cases reported exposure in Ghana or Nigeria and 63% of P. vivax cases reported exposure in India. Our study provides insights toward improving pre-travel programs for Ontarians visiting malaria-endemic regions and underscores the changing epidemiology of imported malaria in the province.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076208
PMCID: PMC3786973  PMID: 24098780
20.  The International Limits and Population at Risk of Plasmodium vivax Transmission in 2009 
Background
A research priority for Plasmodium vivax malaria is to improve our understanding of the spatial distribution of risk and its relationship with the burden of P. vivax disease in human populations. The aim of the research outlined in this article is to provide a contemporary evidence-based map of the global spatial extent of P. vivax malaria, together with estimates of the human population at risk (PAR) of any level of transmission in 2009.
Methodology
The most recent P. vivax case-reporting data that could be obtained for all malaria endemic countries were used to classify risk into three classes: malaria free, unstable (<0.1 case per 1,000 people per annum (p.a.)) and stable (≥0.1 case per 1,000 p.a.) P. vivax malaria transmission. Risk areas were further constrained using temperature and aridity data based upon their relationship with parasite and vector bionomics. Medical intelligence was used to refine the spatial extent of risk in specific areas where transmission was reported to be absent (e.g., large urban areas and malaria-free islands). The PAR under each level of transmission was then derived by combining the categorical risk map with a high resolution population surface adjusted to 2009. The exclusion of large Duffy negative populations in Africa from the PAR totals was achieved using independent modelling of the gene frequency of this genetic trait. It was estimated that 2.85 billion people were exposed to some risk of P. vivax transmission in 2009, with 57.1% of them living in areas of unstable transmission. The vast majority (2.59 billion, 91.0%) were located in Central and South East (CSE) Asia, whilst the remainder were located in America (0.16 billion, 5.5%) and in the Africa+ region (0.10 billion, 3.5%). Despite evidence of ubiquitous risk of P. vivax infection in Africa, the very high prevalence of Duffy negativity throughout Central and West Africa reduced the PAR estimates substantially.
Conclusions
After more than a century of development and control, P. vivax remains more widely distributed than P. falciparum and is a potential cause of morbidity and mortality amongst the 2.85 billion people living at risk of infection, the majority of whom are in the tropical belt of CSE Asia. The probability of infection is reduced massively across Africa by the frequency of the Duffy negative trait, but transmission does occur on the continent and is a concern for Duffy positive locals and travellers. The final map provides the spatial limits on which the endemicity of P. vivax transmission can be mapped to support future cartographic-based burden estimations.
Author Summary
Growing evidence shows that Plasmodium vivax malaria is clinically less benign than has been commonly believed. In addition, it is the most widely distributed species of human malaria and is likely to cause more illness in certain regions than the more extensively studied P. falciparum malaria. Understanding where P. vivax transmission exists and measuring the number of people who live at risk of infection is a fundamental first step to estimating the global disease toll. The aim of this paper is to generate a reliable map of the worldwide distribution of this parasite and to provide an estimate of how many people are exposed to probable infection. A geographical information system was used to map data on the presence of P. vivax infection and spatial information on climatic conditions that impede transmission (low ambient temperature and extremely arid environments) in order to delineate areas where transmission was unlikely to take place. This map was combined with population distribution data to estimate how many people live in these areas and are, therefore, exposed to risk of infection by P. vivax malaria. The results show that 2.85 billion people were exposed to some level of risk of transmission in 2009.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000774
PMCID: PMC2914753  PMID: 20689816
21.  Imported pediatric malaria at the hospital for sick children, Toronto, Canada: a 16 year review 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14(1):251.
Background
Children under 5 represent 86% of annual malaria deaths in the world. Following increasing trends in international travel, cases of imported malaria are rising in North America. We describe the epidemiology of malaria diagnosed at a tertiary care pediatric center in the multicultural city of Toronto.
Method
Retrospective chart review of all laboratory confirmed malaria from birth to <18 years between July 1, 1997 and June 30, 2013. Epidemiological data, travel history, chemoprophylaxis history, as well as clinical presentation, diagnosis and treatment were extracted.
Results
In total 107 children were diagnosed with malaria in the 16 year time period. Plasmodium falciparum malaria was identified in 76 (71%), Plasmodium vivax in 28 (26%). Median age of infected children was 6.7 years where 35% of children were born in Canada, 63% were recent or previous immigrants. Of those who resided in Canada, reason for travel included visiting friends or relatives (VFR) 95% and tourism or education (5%). Most common countries of infection were Ghana (22%), Nigeria (20%) and India (14%). Median parasitemia at presentation to our institution was 0.4% (IQR 0.1-2.3) with a maximum parasitemia of 31%. Nineteen (18%) met the WHO criteria for severe malaria due to hyperparasitemia, with 3 of these cases also meeting clinical criteria for severe malaria. One third of patients had a delay in treatment of 2 or more days. Ten percent of children had seen two or more primary health care professionals prior to admission. Prophylaxis was documented in 22 (21%), and out of those, 6 (27%) were appropriate for the region of travel and only 1 case was documented as adherent to their prescription. There were no cases of fatality.
Conclusion
Malaria continues to be a significant disease in returning travelers and immigrant or refugee populations. An increase in physician awareness is required. Appropriate pre-travel advice, insect protection measures, effective chemoprophylaxis is needed to reduce the incidence and improve the management of imported pediatric malaria.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-251
PMCID: PMC4287547  PMID: 25281037
Malaria; Pediatric; Visiting friends and relatives; Immigrant health
22.  Cost-effectiveness analysis of malaria chemoprophylaxis for travellers to West-Africa 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:279.
Background
The importation of malaria to non-endemic countries remains a major cause of travel-related morbidity and a leading cause of travel-related hospitalizations. Currently they are three priority medications for malaria prophylaxis to West Africa: mefloquine, atovaquone/proguanil and doxycycline. We investigate the cost effectiveness of a partial reimbursement of the cheapest effective malaria chemoprophylaxis (mefloquine) for travellers to high risk areas of malaria transmission compared with the current situation of no reimbursement.
Methods
This study is a cost-effectiveness analysis based on malaria cases imported from West Africa to Switzerland from the perspective of the Swiss health system. We used a decision tree model and made a literature research on the components of travel related malaria. The main outcome measure was the cost effectiveness of malaria chemoprophylaxis reimbursement based on malaria and deaths averted.
Results
Using a program where travellers would be reimbursed for 80% of the cost of the cheapest malaria chemoprophylaxis is dominant (i.e. cost saving and more effective than the current situation) using the assumption that currently 68.7% of travellers to West Africa use malaria chemoprophylaxis. If the current usage of malaria chemoprophylaxis would be higher, 82.4%, the incremental cost per malaria case averted is € 2'302. The incremental cost of malaria death averted is € 191'833.
The most important factors influencing the model were: the proportion of travellers using malaria chemoprophylaxis, the probability of contracting malaria without malaria chemoprophylaxis, the cost of the mefloquine regimen, the decrease in the number of travellers without malaria chemoprophylaxis in the reimbursement strategy.
Conclusions
This study suggests that a reimbursement of 80% of the cost of the cheapest effective malaria chemoprophylaxis (mefloquine) for travellers from Switzerland to West Africa is highly effective in terms of malaria cases averted and is cost effective to the Swiss health system. These data are relevant to discussions about the cost effectiveness of malaria chemoprophylaxis reimbursement for vulnerable groups such as those visiting friends and relatives who have the highest risk of malaria, who are least likely to use chemoprophylaxis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-279
PMCID: PMC3161358  PMID: 20860809
23.  Imported malaria in an area in southern Madrid, 2005-2008 
Malaria Journal  2010;9:290.
Background
In Spain, malaria cases are mostly due to migrants and travellers returning from endemic areas. The objective of this work was to describe the malaria cases diagnosed at the Severo Ochoa University Hospital (HUSO) in Leganés in the south of the Madrid Region from 2005 to 2008.
Methods
Descriptive retrospective study performed at HUSO. Data sources are registries from the Microbiology Department and malaria cases notified to the Preventive Medicine Department. Analysed parameters were: administrative, demographical, related to the stay at the endemic country, clinical, microbiological diagnosis method, pregnancy, treatment and prophylaxis, co-infections, and days of hospital stay.
Results
Fifty-seven patients diagnosed with malaria were studied. Case distribution per year was 13 in 2005, 15 in 2006, 15 in 2007 and 14 in 2008. Thirty-three patients were female (57.9%) and 24 male (42.1%). Mean age was 27.8 years. Most of the malaria cases were acquired in Nigeria (49.1%) and Equatorial Guinea (32.7%). 29.1% of the patients were immigrants who had arrived recently, and 61.8% acquired malaria when travelling to their countries of origin to visit friends and relatives (VFR). Majority of cases were diagnosed between June and September. Microscopy was positive in 39 cases (68.4%) immunochromatography in 42 (73.7%) and PCR in the 55 cases where performed. Plasmodium falciparum was responsible for 94.7% of the cases. The more frequent symptoms were fever (77.2%), followed by headache and gastrointestinal symptoms (33.3%). Nine cases needed hospital admittance, a pregnant woman, three children, four VFR and an African tourist, but all evolved favourably. Chemoprophylaxis data was known from 55 patients. It was taken correctly in one case (1.8%), in five (9.1%) the prophylaxis was improper while the others 49 (89.1%) cases had not followed any anti-malarial prophylaxis.
Conclusions
Children, pregnant women and the VFR have the highest risk to present severe malaria and to need hospital admittance. Another important risk factor for acquiring malaria is incorrect prophylaxis. The first place for malaria acquisition was Nigeria and the main species causing malaria was P. falciparum.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-9-290
PMCID: PMC2972306  PMID: 20961449
24.  International Funding for Malaria Control in Relation to Populations at Risk of Stable Plasmodium falciparum Transmission 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(7):e142.
Background
The international financing of malaria control has increased significantly in the last ten years in parallel with calls to halve the malaria burden by the year 2015. The allocation of funds to countries should reflect the size of the populations at risk of infection, disease, and death. To examine this relationship, we compare an audit of international commitments with an objective assessment of national need: the population at risk of stable Plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission in 2007.
Methods and Findings
The national distributions of populations at risk of stable P. falciparum transmission were projected to the year 2007 for each of 87 P. falciparum–endemic countries. Systematic online- and literature-based searches were conducted to audit the international funding commitments made for malaria control by major donors between 2002 and 2007. These figures were used to generate annual malaria funding allocation (in US dollars) per capita population at risk of stable P. falciparum in 2007. Almost US$1 billion are distributed each year to the 1.4 billion people exposed to stable P. falciparum malaria risk. This is less than US$1 per person at risk per year. Forty percent of this total comes from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Substantial regional and national variations in disbursements exist. While the distribution of funds is found to be broadly appropriate, specific high population density countries receive disproportionately less support to scale up malaria control. Additionally, an inadequacy of current financial commitments by the international community was found: under-funding could be from 50% to 450%, depending on which global assessment of the cost required to scale up malaria control is adopted.
Conclusions
Without further increases in funding and appropriate targeting of global malaria control investment it is unlikely that international goals to halve disease burdens by 2015 will be achieved. Moreover, the additional financing requirements to move from malaria control to malaria elimination have not yet been considered by the scientific or international community.
To reach global malaria control goals, Robert Snow and colleagues argue that more international funding is needed but that it must be targeted at specific countries most at risk.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Malaria is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world and one of the greatest global public health problems. The Plasmodium falciparum parasite causes approximately 500 million cases each year and over one million deaths. More than 40% of the world's population is at risk of malaria.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), established by the United Nations in 2000, include a target in Goal 6: “to have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.” Following the launch of the MDG and international initiatives like Roll Back Malaria, there has been an upsurge in support for malaria control. This effort has included the formation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and considerable funding from the US President's Malaria Initiative, the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development, USAID, and nongovernmental agencies and foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But it is not yet clear how equitable or effective the financial commitments to malaria control have been.
Why Was This Study Done?
As part of the activities of the Malaria Atlas Project, the researchers had previously generated a global map of the limits of P. falciparum transmission. This map detailed areas where risk is moderate or high (stable transmission areas where malaria is endemic) and areas where the risk of transmission is low (unstable transmission areas where sporadic outbreaks of malaria may occur). Because the level of funding to control malaria should be proportionate to the size of the populations at risk, the researchers in this study appraised whether the areas of greatest need were receiving financial resources in proportion to this risk. That is, whether there is equity in how malaria funding is allocated.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To assess the international financing of malaria control, the researchers conducted a audit of financial commitments to malaria control of the GFATM, national governments, and other donors for the period 2002 to 2007. To assess need, they estimated the population at risk of stable P. falciparum malaria transmission in 2007, building on their previous malaria map. Financial commitments were identified via online and literature searches, including the GFATM Web site, the World Malaria Report produced by WHO and UNICEF, and various other sources of financial information. Together these data allowed the authors to generate an estimate of the annual malaria funding allocation per capita population at risk of P. falciparum.
Of the 87 malaria-endemic countries, 76 received malaria funding commitments by the end of 2007. Overall, annual funding amounted to US$1 billion dollars, or less than US$1 per person at risk. Forty percent came from the GFATM, and the remaining from a mix of national government and external donors. The authors found great regional variation in the levels of funding. For example, looking at just the countries approved for GFATM funding, Myanmar was awarded an average annual per capita-at-risk amount of US$0.01 while Suriname was awarded US$147. With all financial commitments combined, ten countries had per capita annual support of more than US$4 per person, but 34 countries had less than US$1, including 16 where annual malaria support was less than US$0.5 per capita. These 16 countries represent 50% of the global population at risk and include seven of the poorest countries in Africa and two of the most densely populated stable endemic countries in the world (India and Indonesia).
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers find that the distribution of funds across the regions affected by malaria to be generally appropriate, with the Africa region and low-population-at-risk areas such as the Americas, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe receiving proportionate annual malaria support. But they also identify large shortfalls, such as in the South East Asia and Western Pacific regions, which represents 47% of the global population at risk but received only 17% of GFATM and 24% of non-GFATM support. National government spending also falls short: for example, in Nigeria, where more than 100 million people are at risk of stable P. falciparum transmission, less than US$1 is invested per person per year. These findings illustrate how important it is to examine financial commitments against actual needs. Given the gaps between funding support and level of stable P. falciparum risk, the authors conclude that the goal to reduce the global burden of malaria by 2015 very likely will not be met with current commitments. They estimate that there remains a 50%–450% shortfall in funding needed to scale up malaria control worldwide.
Future research should assess the impact of these funding commitments and what additional resources will be needed if goals of malaria elimination are added to malaria control targets.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050142.
This study is discussed further in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Anthony Kiszewski
The authors of this article have also published a global map of malaria risk; see Guerra, et al. (2008) PLoS Med 5(2) e38
Information is available from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
More information is available on global mapping of malaria risk from the Malaria Atlas Project
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050142
PMCID: PMC2488181  PMID: 18651785
25.  Age Interactions in the Development of Naturally Acquired Immunity to Plasmodium falciparum and Its Clinical Presentation 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(7):e242.
Background
Naturally acquired malaria immunity has many determinants and, in the absence of immunological markers of protection, studies assessing malaria incidence through clinical endpoints remain an approach to defining immunity acquisition. We investigated the role of age in disease incidence and the effects of chemoprophylaxis on clinical immunity development to Plasmodium falciparum during a randomised controlled trial.
Methods and Findings
A total of 415 Tanzanian infants were randomly assigned to receive weekly malaria prophylaxis with Deltaprim (3.125 mg of pyrimethamine plus 25 mg of dapsone) or placebo between the ages of 2 and 12 mo. Children were followed up until 4 y of age. Uncomplicated febrile malaria, severe malaria, and anaemia morbidity were assessed through hospital-based passive surveillance. Compared with the group of control participants, there was a marked reduction in the incidence of clinical malaria, severe malaria, and anaemia in the group of children who had received chemoprophylaxis during the first year of life. After discontinuing the intervention, there was a significant increase in the incidence of clinical malaria for 2 y. The cumulative rates of clinical malaria, by age 4 y, were slightly higher in the group of children who had previously received chemoprophylaxis: 3.22 episodes versus 3.02 episodes in the group of control participants; rate difference 0.20 (95% confidence interval [CI]: −0.21 to 0.59). By age 4 y, the cumulative rates of severe malaria, however, were slightly lower in chemosuppressed children (0.47 versus 0.59) (rate difference −0.12 [95% CI: −0.27 to 0.03]). The number of episodes of anaemia was also slightly lower in chemosuppressed children by age 4y: 0.93 episodes (95% CI: 0.79 to 0.97) versus 1.12 episodes in the group of control participants (95% CI: 0.97 to 1.28) (rate difference −0.19 [95% CI: −0.40 to 0.01]), respectively.
Conclusions
Reducing exposure to P. falciparum antigens through chemoprophylaxis early in life can delay immunity acquisition. Infants appear to acquire immunity faster than older children, but have a higher risk of developing severe forms of malaria and anaemia. These findings provide insight on the interplay between immunity and exposure-reduction interventions.
John Aponte and colleagues report that reducing exposure to parasite antigens early in life through chemoprophylaxis, while reducing the incidence of severe malaria, can delay the development of immunity.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by Plasmodium falciparum, a parasite that is transmitted from person to person by infected mosquitoes. People living in areas where malaria is common (malaria-endemic regions) gradually acquire immunity to this parasite through repeated exposure to it, but the development of this immunity is complex. As with other infectious diseases, the immune system has to learn how to recognize and attack the parasite so that parasitaemia (the number of parasites in the blood) is kept to a minimum. In addition, because several symptoms of clinical malaria (for example, the characteristic fever) are side effects of the immune system's response to the parasite, it also has to learn not to overreact to this foreign invader. Consequently, in malaria-endemic areas, where individuals first become infected with P. falciparum as infants, many children develop severe malaria and anemia (parasite-induced killing of red blood cells) during their first 5 y of life. Later, as their immunity to P. falciparum develops, they experience less severe disease and reduced parasitaemia.
Why Was This Study Done?
Little is known about how quickly immunity to P. falciparum is acquired or how age affects this process. This study was done to document the long-term effects of malaria prophylaxis given to young Tanzanian infants. More specifically, the researchers examined whether and how prophylaxis affects the rate of acquisition of malaria immunity, and whether a possible delay in immunity would be associated with more severe forms of malaria in children.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Infants in Ifakara, a town in Tanzania, received either antimalarial tablets or placebo (inactive) tablets every week between the ages of 2 and 12 mo. Cases of clinical malaria (parasitaemia and fever), severe malaria (parasitaemia plus dehydration, breathing problems, impaired consciousness, or low blood sugar), and anemia among the children were recorded until they were 4 y old. During their first year, the children receiving antimalarial drugs had fewer episodes of malaria, severe malaria, and anemia than the children receiving the placebo. After the antimalarial drugs were stopped, cases of clinical malaria, severe malaria, and anemia were more frequent among the treated children than among the control children for the next 2 y. By the time they were 4 y old, the treated children had had slightly more episodes of clinical malaria in total than the control children, but slightly fewer episodes of severe malaria and anemia.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that reducing exposure to P. falciparum in early life with continuous malaria prophylaxis delays the acquisition of immunity to the parasite. They also show that infants acquire this immunity slightly faster than do older children, but that this speedier acquisition of immunity is accompanied by a slightly increased risk of severe malaria and anemia. Because these findings may, in part, reflect a local decrease in malaria transmission that occurred during the study, they need confirming in other settings and with many more children. Nevertheless, they suggest that although age at first exposure to P. falciparum helps to determine both the rate at which immunity is acquired and the severity of disease caused by the parasite, delaying the acquisition of immunity through early prophylaxis is unlikely to have long-term negative health effects. This information will help public-health experts to plan prophylactic interventions designed to control malaria transmission in endemic regions.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040242.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on malaria and on immune responses to malaria (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus encyclopedia page on malaria (in English and Spanish)
Information from the World Health Organization on malaria (in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese)
Short articles from the Wellcome Trust on immunity to malaria and on malaria and the human immune system
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040242
PMCID: PMC1950208  PMID: 17676985

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