The neglected burden of Plasmodium vivax malaria

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We estimate that the global burden of malaria due to Plasmodium vivax is approximately 70-80 million cases annually. Probably approximately 10-20% of the world's cases of P. vivax infection occur in Africa, south of the Sahara. In eastern and southern Africa, P. vivax represents around 10% of malaria cases but < 1% of cases in western and central Africa. Outside of African, P. vivax accounts for > 50% of all malaria cases. About 80-90% of P. vivax outside of Africa occurs in the Middle East, Asia, and the Western Pacific, mainly in the most tropical regions, and 10-15% in Central and South America. Because malaria transmission rates are low in most regions where P. vivax is prevalent, the human populations affected achieve little immunity to this parasite; as a result, in these regions, P. vivax infections affect people of all ages. Although the effects of repeated attacks of P. vivax through childhood and adult life are only rarely directly lethal, they can have major deleterious effects on personal well-being, growth, and development, and on the economic performance at the individual, family, community, and national levels. Features of the transmission biology of P. vivax give this species greater resilience than the less robust Plasmodiumfalciparum in the face of conditions adverse to the transmission of the parasites. Therefore, as control measures become more effective, the residual malaria burden is likely increasingly to become that of P. vivax.