Plasmodium falciparum Gametocytemia in Kenyan Children: Associations among Age, Intensity of Exposure to Transmission, and Prevalence and Density of Subsequent Gametocytemia

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  • Malaria Program, Naval Medical Research Institute, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, U.S. Army Medical Research Unit-Nairobi, Department of Tropical Medicine, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Vector Biology and Control Research Centre, Rockville, Maryland, Kenya
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Recently, an association was described between the density of Plasmodium falciparum asexual parasitemia in Kenyan children and the entomologic inoculation rate (EIR) measured prior to measurement of asexual parasitemia. This study examined whether transmission pressure, as represented by the EIR, was associated with the prevalence or density of gametocytemia in Kenyan children. Each month for 19 months, a cohort of approximately 50 children was given a radical cure and enrolled in the study. Blood films were taken on days 0, 7, and 14. The EIR was calculated for the 28-day period ending 14 days prior to enrollment: the relationship between blood film data from day 7 and exposure variables was explored. We found that younger children were more likely to be gametocytemic than older children and, if gametocytemic, were more likely to have a dense gametocytemia. There was an inverse relationship between the number of infective bites per night received and prevalence but not density of gametocytemia, even after age adjustment. Concordance of gametocytemia prevalence on days 0 (64%), 7 (66%), and 14 (52%) was poor; 84% of the children were positive on at least one day. This indicates that in many subjects the detectable gametocytemia varied over the 14 days. Under these holoendemic transmission conditions, the EIR is inversely correlated with prevalence of gametocytemia, and point measurements of gametocytemia by conventional microscopy underestimate the number of infective donor hosts.