Volume 97, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Malaria infections may be symptomatic, leading to treatment, or “asymptomatic,” typically detected through active surveillance, and not leading to treatment. Malaria elimination may require purging both types of infection. Using detection methods with different sensitivities, we conducted a cross-sectional study in two rural communities located along the border between China’s Yunnan Province and Myanmar’s Shan and Kachin States, to estimate the prevalence of asymptomatic and symptomatic malaria. In Mong Pawk, all infections detected were asymptomatic, and the prevalence of was 0.3%, 4.3%, 4.0%, and 7.8% by light microscopy, rapid diagnostic test (RDT), conventional polymerase chain reaction (cPCR), and multiplexed real-time PCR (RT-PCR), respectively, and prevalence was 0% by all detection methods. In Laiza, of 385 asymptomatic participants, 2.3%, 4.4%, and 12.2% were positive for by microscopy, cPCR, and RT-PCR, respectively, and 2.3% were -positive only by RT-PCR. Of 34 symptomatic participants in Laiza, 32.4% were positive by all detection methods. Factors associated with infection included gender (males higher than females, = 0.014), and young age group (5–17 age group compared with others, = 0.0024). Although the sensitivity of microscopy was adequate to detect symptomatic infections, it missed the vast majority (86.5%) of asymptomatic infections. Although molecular detection methods had no advantage over standard microscopy or RDT diagnosis for clinically apparent infections, malaria elimination along the Myanmar–China border will likely require highly sensitive surveillance tools to identify asymptomatic infections and guide targeted screen-and-treat interventions.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 05 Mar 2017
  • Accepted : 17 Apr 2017
  • Published online : 05 Sep 2017

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