Sustained malaria transmission despite reactive screen-and-treat in a low-transmission area of southern Zambia

Southern and Central Africa International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research

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8 Scopus citations


Malaria elimination strategies are designed to more effectively identify and treat infected individuals to interrupt transmission. One strategy, reactive screen-and-treat, starts with passive detection of symptomatic cases at health facilities. Individuals residing within the index case and neighboring households are screened with a malaria rapid diagnostic test (RDT) and treated if positive. However, it is unclear to what extent this strategy is effective in reducing transmission. Reactive screen-and-treat was implemented in Choma district, Southern Province, Zambia, in 2013, in which residents of the index case and neighboring households within 140 m were screened with an RDT. From March 2016 to July 2018, the screening radius was extended to 250-m, and additional follow-up visits at 30 and 90 days were added to evaluate the strategy. Plasmodium falciparum parasite prevalence was measured using an RDT and by quantitative PCR (qPCR). A 24-single nucleotide polymorphism molecular bar-code assay was used to genotype parasites. Eighty-four index case households with 676 residents were enrolled between March 2016 and March 2018. Within each season, parasite prevalence declined significantly in index households at the 30-day visit and remained low at the 90-day visit. However, parasite prevalence was not reduced to zero. Infections identified by qPCR persisted between study visits and were not identified by RDT. Parasites identified within the same household were most genetically related; however, overall parasite relatedness was low and similar across time and space. Thus, despite implementation of a reactive screen-and-treat program, parasitemia was not eliminated, and persisted in targeted households for at least 3 months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-679
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number2
Early online dateNov 23 2020
StatePublished - Feb 2021

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