Quantifying malaria endemicity in Ethiopia through combined application of classical methods and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay: An initial step for countries with low transmission initiating elimination programme

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Abstract

Background: In the context of reduced transmission of malaria, it is essential to re-evaluate and determine the level of transmission as it guides re-orientation of control measures which is appropriate to local disease epidemiology. However, little is known about level of malaria transmission in Ethiopia. The present study aimed to investigate the level of malaria transmission through combined application of classical methods and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (EIA) in low transmission settings of Ethiopia. Methods: This study was conducted in June 2016 on 763 apparently healthy children 2-9 years of age. Children were recruited from ten sites representing different malaria transmission settings in Ethiopia. Splenomegaly rate, infection rate and EIA antibody test were used to determine endemicity. The data were analysed using SPSS 21.0 and Stata 12.0. Results: The overall prevalence of malaria parasitaemia was 2.49% (95% CI 1.38-3.59) and 2.36% (95% CI 1.28-3.44) as detected using rapid diagnostic test and microscopy, respectively. Plasmodium falciparum accounted for 62.63% of the infections. The prevalence of parasitaemia significantly varied by altitude and localities; the highest (5.8%) in areas below 1500 m above sea level. Overall, splenomegaly rate was 1.70% (95% CI 0.78-0.2.66%), making the overall malaria transmission hypoendemic. Infection rate was higher among males (2.7%), but rate of splenomegaly was higher in females. Incongruent with spleen rate and parasitaemia, EIA showed a higher level of cumulative exposure to malaria with spatially localized and highly heterogeneous transmission. Overall, 126 (18.75%, 95% CI 15.79-21.71) of the children were positive for total malaria antibodies with significant variations with altitude, age and sex; the higher in areas of < 1500 m asl (25.8%), children ≥ 5 years (22.1%) and among males (20.9%). Conclusions: Splenomegaly and parasitaemia are not good measures to show variations in the levels of malaria transmission in reduced and/or low endemic settings. The malaria antibody (i.e. serological) test seems to be a good measure of malaria endemicity showing greater degree of heterogeneity and localized risk of transmission. Thus, malaria elimination efforts need to be supported with serological indicators to identify patterns of foci of transmission to set priorities for interventions.

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Birhanu, Z., Yihdego, Y. Y. E., & Yewhalaw, D. (2018). Quantifying malaria endemicity in Ethiopia through combined application of classical methods and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay: An initial step for countries with low transmission initiating elimination programme. Malaria Journal, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12936-018-2282-9

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