Background: A goal of malaria epidemiological interventions is the detection and treatment of parasite reservoirs in endemic areas-an activity that is expected to reduce local transmission. Since the gametocyte is the only transmissible stage from human host to mosquito vector, this study evaluated the pre and post presence of gametocytes during a mass screening and treatment (MST) intervention conducted during 2013 in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.
Methods: RT-qPCR targeting pfs25 and pvs25 transcripts-gametocyte molecular markers for Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, respectively, was performed to detect and quantify gametocytes in blood samples of P. falciparum and P. vivax-infected subjects over the course of the MST study. The presence of both asexual and sexual parasites in microscopic and submicroscopic infections was compared from the start and end of the MST, using proportion tests as well as parametric and non-parametric tests.
Results: Parasite prevalence remained unchanged for P. falciparum (6% = 52/811 versus 7% = 50/740, p = 0.838), and decreased slightly for P. vivax (24% = 192/811 versus 19% = 142/740, p = 0.035) between the MST baseline and endpoint. No significant difference was observed in gametocyte prevalence for either P. falciparum (2% = 19/803 versus 3% = 23/729, p = 0.353, OR = 1.34, 95%CI = 0.69-2.63), or P. vivax (7% = 49/744 versus 5% = 39/704, p = 0.442, OR = 0.83, 95%CI = 0.52-1.31). Even though there was an insignificant difference between the two time points, the majority of parasite positive subjects at the endpoint had been negative at baseline (P. falciparum: 66% = 29/44, P. vivax: 60% = 80/134). This was similarly demonstrated for the transmissible stage-where the majority of gametocyte positive subjects at the endpoint were negative at baseline (P. falciparum: 95% = 20/21, P. vivax: 94% = 30/32). These results were independent of treatment provided during MST activities. No difference was demonstrated in parasite and gametocyte density between both time points either in P. falciparum or P. vivax.
Conclusion: In this study area, similar prevalence rates of P. falciparum and P. vivax parasites and gametocytes before and after MST, although in different individuals, points to a negligible impact on the parasite reservoir. Treatment administration based on parasite positivity as implemented in the MST should be reevaluated for the elimination strategy in the community. Trial registration Clinical trials registration NCT01878357. Registered 14 June 2013, https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01878357.
Keywords: Gametocyte; Mass screening and treatment; Pfs25; Pvs25.