Seasonal variation and high multiplicity of first Plasmodium falciparum infections in children from a holoendemic area in Ghana, West Africa

Trop Med Int Health. 2006 May;11(5):613-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2006.01618.x.


Objective: To assess the prevalence and multiplicity of Plasmodium falciparum infections in Ghanaian infants.

Method: In an epidemiological study in an area holoendemic for malaria in Ghana, the prevalence and multiplicity of P. falciparum infections (MOI) were assessed in 1069 three month-old infants by typing of the genes encoding the merozoite surface proteins 1 and 2 (msp-1, msp-2) over a recruitment period of one year. Alleles were amplified using allele family-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays and determined according to their length polymorphisms on a genetic analyzer.

Results: The occurrence of early infections was dependent on the season (month-stratified prevalence 6.4-29.0%). Diversity of msp-alleles was extensive and significantly higher in the dry than in the rainy season.

Conclusions: The level of infection prevalence and the high multiplicity of infections (median 4, maximum 14 strains per isolate) in the first months of life indicate early contacts with parasites exhibiting a wide repertoire of antigens and, most likely, multiple infections per single mosquito bite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Protozoan / genetics
  • Biodiversity
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • Endemic Diseases*
  • Genotype
  • Ghana / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Malaria, Falciparum / epidemiology*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / genetics
  • Merozoite Surface Protein 1 / genetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Seasons*


  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • DNA, Protozoan
  • Merozoite Surface Protein 1
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • merozoite surface protein 2, Plasmodium