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Do the venous blood samples replicate malaria parasite densities found in capillary blood? A field study performed in naturally-infected asymptomatic children in Cameroon

Sandeu M.M., Bayibéki A.N., Tchioffo M.T., Abate L., Gimonneau G., Awono-Ambéné P., Nsango S.E., Diallo D., Berry A., Texier G., Morlais I.. 2017. Malaria Journal, 16 : 9 p..

DOI: 10.1186/s12936-017-1978-6

Background: The measure of new drug- or vaccine-based approaches for malaria control is based on direct membrane feeding assays (DMFAs) where gametocyte-infected blood samples are offered to mosquitoes through an artificial feeder system. Gametocyte donors are identified by the microscopic detection and quantification of malaria blood stages on blood films prepared using either capillary or venous blood. However, parasites are known to sequester in the microvasculature and this phenomenon may alter accurate detection of parasites in blood films. The blood source may then impact the success of mosquito feeding experiments and investigations are needed for the implementation of DMFAs under natural conditions. Methods: Thick blood smears were prepared from blood obtained from asymptomatic children attending primary schools in the vicinity of Mfou (Cameroon) over four transmission seasons. Parasite densities were determined microscopically from capillary and venous blood for 137 naturally-infected gametocyte carriers. The effect of the blood source on gametocyte and asexual stage densities was then assessed by fitting cumulative link mixed models (CLMM). DMFAs were performed to compare the infectiousness of gametocytes from the different blood sources to mosquitoes. Results: Prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum asexual stages among asymptomatic children aged from 4 to 15 years was 51.8% (2116/4087). The overall prevalence of P. falciparum gametocyte carriage was 8.9% and varied from one school to another. No difference in the density of gametocyte and asexual stages was found between capillary and venous blood. Attempts to perform DMFAs with capillary blood failed. Conclusions: Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite densities do not differ between capillary and venous blood in asymptomatic subjects for both gametocyte and trophozoite stages. This finding suggests that the blood source should not interfere with transmission efficiency in DMFAs.

Mots-clés : plasmodium falciparum; malaria; sang; enfant; infection; Épidémiologie; transmission des maladies; parasitisme; cameroun

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