Volume 59, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


It has been shown that insecticide-treated bed nets or curtains may reduce morbidity and mortality from malaria in hyper-holoendemic areas of sub-Saharan Africa. This protection could partially depend on the transitory imbalance between the anti-malaria immunity acquired by the population before the intervention and the lowered sporozoite load resulting from the anti-vector measure. To verify if the efficacy of the intervention is influenced by the baseline immune status of the population, we compared the protective effect of permethrin-impregnated curtains (PIC) against malaria infection among groups with different baseline levels of anti-malaria immunity. We analyzed the impact of PIC on the Plasmodium falciparum infection rate in two rural villages of Burkina Faso inhabited by three ethnic groups: the Fulani, Mossi, and Rimaibé. These have been previously shown to differ for several malariologic indices, with the Fulani being characterized by lower infection and disease rates and by higher immune response to P. falciparum with respect to the other ethnic groups. The PIC were distributed in June 1996 and their impact on malaria infection was evaluated in groups whose baseline levels of immunity to malaria differed because of their age and ethnic group. Age- and ethnic-dependent efficacy of the PIC was observed. Among the Mossi and Rimaibé, the impact (parasite rate reduction after PIC installation with respect to the pre-intervention surveys) was 18.8% and 18.5%, respectively. A more than two-fold general impact (42.8%) was recorded in the Fulani. The impact of the intervention on infection rates appears positively correlated with the levels of anti-malaria immunity. Since decreased transmission entails a reduction of immunity, the efficacy of the intervention in the long term cannot be taken for granted. The expected complementary role of a hypothetical vaccine is stressed by these results, which also emphasize the importance of the genetic background of the population in the evaluation and application of malaria control strategies.


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