Volume 67, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Malaria is holoendemic in the lowlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG), and interactions among Plasmodium species may influence prevalence of mixed infections. Previously, field samples from a cross-sectional survey in Dreikikir, East Sepik Province, analyzed by blood smear and polymerase chain reaction (PCR), showed that mixed infections were common and randomly distributed in this malaria endemic region. To evaluate further whether Plasmodium species distribution is random, blood smear- and PCR/sequence-specific oligonucleotide probe hybridization-based analyses of cross-sectional survey samples were conducted in 2 additional malaria holoendemic regions of northern PNG. Despite ecologic, species prevalence, and transmission season differences in these new surveys, all 4 Plasmodium species were found to be randomly distributed in each area; random distribution patterns also were observed when study populations were divided into age groups. These findings provide consistent evidence that Plasmodium species infections occur independently of one another in PNG malaria holoendemic sites. This independent occurrence suggests that age-dependent, acquired malaria immunity has limited influence on the distribution pattern of Plasmodium species infections in endemic human populations; infection by 1 human malaria parasite species does not reduce susceptibility to infection by others; and malaria vaccines would exhibit limited protection against blood-stage infection by heterologous Plasmodium species.


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