Background: An epidemiological and entomological study was carried out in Balaghat district, Madhya Pradesh, India to understand the dynamics of forest malaria transmission in a difficult and hard to reach area where indoor residual spray and insecticide treated nets were used for vector control.
Methods: This community based cross-sectional study was undertaken from January 2010 to December 2012 in Baihar and Birsa Community Health Centres of district Balaghat for screening malaria cases. Entomological surveillance included indoor resting collections, pyrethrum spray catches and light trap catches. Anophelines were assayed by ELISA for detection of Plasmodium circumsporozoite protein.
Findings: Plasmodium falciparum infection accounted for >80% of all infections. P. vivax 16.5%, P. malariae 0.75% and remaining were mixed infections of P. falciparum, P. vivax and P. malariae. More than, 30% infections were found in infants under 6 months of age. Overall, an increasing trend in malaria positivity was observed from 2010 to 2012 (chi-square for trend = 663.55; P<0.0001). Twenty five Anopheles culicifacies (sibling species C, D and E) were positive for circumsporozoite protein of P. falciparum (44%) and P. vivax (56%). Additionally, 2 An. fluviatilis, were found positive for P. falciparum and 1 for P. vivax (sibling species S and T). An. fluviatilis sibling species T was found as vector in forest villages for the first time in India.
Conclusion: These results showed that the study villages are experiencing almost perennial malaria transmission inspite of indoor residual spray and insecticide treated nets. Therefore, there is a need for new indoor residual insecticides which has longer residual life or complete coverage of population with long lasting insecticide treated nets or both indoor residual spray and long lasting bed nets for effective vector control. There is a need to undertake a well designed case control study to evaluate the efficacy of these interventions.