The epidemiology of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes: weapons of mass dispersion

Trends Parasitol. 2006 Sep;22(9):424-30. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2006 Jul 17.


Much of the epidemiology of Plasmodium falciparum in Sub-Saharan Africa focuses on the prevalence patterns of asexual parasites in people of different ages, whereas the gametocytes that propagate the disease are often neglected. One expected benefit of the widespread introduction of artemisinin-based combination therapy for malaria is a reduction in gametocyte carriage. However, the factors that affect the transmission of parasites from humans to mosquitoes show complex dynamics in relation to the intensity and seasonality of malaria transmission, and thus such benefits might not be automatic. Here, we review data on gametocyte carriage in the context of the development of naturally acquired immunity and population infectivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Anopheles / parasitology*
  • Carrier State
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Infant
  • Insect Vectors / parasitology*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / epidemiology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / immunology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / transmission*
  • Parasite Egg Count
  • Plasmodium falciparum / immunology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / pathogenicity*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / physiology
  • Prevalence
  • Seasons