Low-Level Plasmodium falciparum Transmission and the Incidence of Severe Malaria Infections on the Kenyan Coast

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  • Kilifi Research Unit, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Biomedical Sciences Research Centre, KEMRI, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, Ministry of Health, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford University, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, The Johns Hopkins University, Kilifi, Kenya

The transmission of Plasmodium falciparum was studied in relation to the incidence of severe malaria infections at Sokoke and Kilifi town, Kilifi District, Kenya. Intensive mosquito sampling during a one-year period yielded Anopheles gambiae s.l., An. funestus, and An. coustani. Anopheles gambiae s.l. was the predominant vector, comprising 87.9% and 97.9% of the total anophelines collected in Sokoke and Kilifi town, respectively. The proportion of An. gambiae s.l. with P. falciparum sporozoite infections was 4.1% (20 of 491) in Sokoke and 2.2% (3 of 138) in Kilifi town; no infections were detected in An. funestus or in An. coustani. Entomologic inoculation rates indicated that residents were exposed to only 8.0 infective bites per year in Sokoke and 1.5 in Kilifi town. Transmission was detected during only six months in Sokoke and three months in Kilifi town despite low-level, year-round vector activity. The yearly incidence of severe P. falciparum infections in children, 1–4 years of age was 24.1 per 1,000 in Sokoke and 4.2 per 1,000 in Kilifi town. Monthly patterns of transmission corresponded closely with the incidence of severe infections. At these sites on the coast of Kenya, the spatial and temporal incidence of severe malaria infections is associated with low-level P. falciparum transmission by vector populations.

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