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Using serological diagnostics to characterize remaining high-incidence pockets of malaria in forest-fringe Cambodia.

Grimée M, Tacoli C, Sandfort M, Obadia T, Taylor AR, Vantaux A, Robinson LJ, Lek D, Longley RJ, Mueller I, Popovici J, White MT, Witkowski B

  • Journal Malaria journal

  • Published 15 Feb 2024

  • Volume 23

  • ISSUE 1

  • Pagination 49

  • DOI 10.1186/s12936-024-04859-5


Over the last decades, the number of malaria cases has drastically reduced in Cambodia. As the overall prevalence of malaria in Cambodia declines, residual malaria transmission becomes increasingly fragmented over smaller remote regions. The aim of this study was to get an insight into the burden and epidemiological parameters of Plasmodium infections on the forest-fringe of Cambodia.

950 participants were recruited in the province of Mondulkiri in Cambodia and followed up from 2018 to 2020. Whole-blood samples were processed for Plasmodium spp. identification by PCR as well as for a serological immunoassay. A risk factor analysis was conducted for Plasmodium vivax PCR-detected infections throughout the study, and for P. vivax seropositivity at baseline. To evaluate the predictive effect of seropositivity at baseline on subsequent PCR-positivity, an analysis of P. vivax infection-free survival time stratified by serological status at baseline was performed.

Living inside the forest significantly increased the odds of P. vivax PCR-positivity by a factor of 18.3 (95% C.I. 7.7-43.5). Being a male adult was also a significant predictor of PCR-positivity. Similar risk profiles were identified for P. vivax seropositivity. The survival analysis showed that serological status at baseline significantly correlated with subsequent infection. Serology is most informative outside of the forest, where 94.0% (95% C.I. 90.7-97.4%) of seronegative individuals survived infection-free, compared to 32.4% (95% C.I.: 22.6-46.6%) of seropositive individuals.

This study justifies the need for serological diagnostic assays to target interventions in this region, particularly in demographic groups where a lot of risk heterogeneity persists, such as outside of the forest.