Molecular epidemiology of malaria in Yaounde, Cameroon. VII. Analysis of recrudescence and reinfection in patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria.

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  • 1 Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and Laboratoire de Recherche sur le Paludisme, Laboratoire Associé Francophone 302, Organisation de Coordination pour la lutte contre les Endémies en Afrique Centrale (OCEAC), Yaounde, Cameroon.

In an endemic area where malaria transmission is intense and continuous, reappearance of asexual parasites may be ascribed to either recrudescence or reinfection. To distinguish between recrudescence and reinfection after oral treatment with chloroquine, amodiaquine, pyronaridine, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, halofantrine, or artesunate, three polymorphic markers (circumsporozoite protein, merozoite surface antigens 1 and 2) from pre-treatment and post-treatment samples were amplified by the polymerase chain reaction, and the in vitro response to chloroquine was determined for comparison. Of 52 paired samples, 22 (42%) were reinfections. Recrudescence occurred more frequently on or before Day 14 (22 of 30 cases, 73%). Except for one case, all reinfections were observed beyond Day 14. The phenotype determination was not sufficiently precise to distinguish between recrudescence and reinfection. Our results suggest that beyond Day 14 (and until Day 42), recrudescence and reinfection cannot be distinguished at our study site unless molecular techniques are used and that some results derived from the polymerase chain reaction need to be compared with the microscopic examination of thick blood smear to exclude gametocyte carriers without asexual parasites after treatment.