Volume 100, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Low-density malaria infections are a source of human morbidity in endemic settings and potentially contribute to ongoing malaria transmission. Conventional rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) were designed to detect clinically relevant parasite and antigen levels, but it is largely unknown what proportion of parasite (and antigen positive) infections are missed by conventional RDTs. Furthermore, RDTs can also provide false positives from lingering histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2) antigenemia from a past infection. We analyzed 207 samples from Angolan outpatients with a bead-based HRP2 antigen assay and by qRT-PCR for the presence of parasite nucleic acids. Among patients HRP2 positive but negative by conventional RDT, the rate of quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR) positivity was 45% (95% CI: 35–56%), with a median parasitemia of 3.4 parasites/µL (interquartile range: 0.14–4.8). Only 15% (7–26%) of HRP2-negative samples were found to have parasite nucleic acids. A substantial proportion of persons with blood HRP2 antigen concentrations not detected by the conventional RDT were found to have evidence of active infection, but at low parasite density levels.


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  • Received : 03 Jan 2019
  • Accepted : 27 Jan 2019
  • Published online : 25 Mar 2019

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