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    Prevalence and force of Plasmodium vivax blood-stage infection and associated clinical malaria burden in the Brazilian Amazon.
    Monteiro, W ; Karl, S ; Kuehn, A ; Almeida, A ; White, M ; Vitor-Silva, S ; Melo, G ; Brito-Sousa, JD ; Baia-da-Silva, DC ; Silva-Neto, AV ; Sampaio, V ; Bassat, Q ; Felger, I ; Mueller, I ; Lacerda, M (FapUNIFESP (SciELO), 2022)
    BACKGROUND: Understanding the epidemiology of malaria through the molecular force of the blood-stage infection of Plasmodium vivax (molFOB) may provide a detailed assessment of malaria transmission. OBJECTIVES: In this study, we investigated risk factors and spatial-temporal patterns of incidence of Plasmodium infection and clinical malaria episodes in three peri-urban communities of Manaus, Western Brazilian Amazon. METHODS: Monthly samples were collected in a cohort of 1,274 individuals between April 2013 and March 2014. DNA samples were subject to Plasmodium species. molFOB was calculated by counting the number of genotypes observed on each visit, which had not been present in the preceding two visits and adjusting these counts by the respective times-at-risk. FINDINGS: Respectively, 77.8% and 97.2% of the population remained free of P. vivax and P. falciparum infection. Expected heterozygosity for P. vivax was 0.69 for MSP1_F3 and 0.86 for MS2. Multiplicity of infection in P. vivax was close to the value of 1. The season was associated with P. vivax positivity [adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 2.6 (1.9-5.7)] and clinical disease [aHR 10.6 (2.4-47.2)]. P. falciparum infection was associated with previous malarial episodes [HR 9.7 (4.5-20.9)]. Subjects who reported possession of a bed net [incidence rate ratio (IRR) 1.6 (1.2-2.2)] or previous malaria episodes [IRR 3.0 (2.0-4.5)] were found to have significantly higher P. vivax molFOB. MAIN CONCLUSIONS: Overall, P. vivax infection prevailed in the area and infections were mostly observed as monoclonal. Previous malaria episodes were associated with significantly higher P. vivax molFOB.
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    Infectivity of Symptomatic Malaria Patients to Anopheles farauti Colony Mosquitoes in Papua New Guinea
    Timinao, L ; Vinit, R ; Katusele, M ; Koleala, T ; Nate, E ; Czeher, C ; Burkot, TR ; Schofield, L ; Felger, I ; Mueller, I ; Laman, M ; Robinson, LJ ; Karl, S (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2021-12-22)
    Plasmodium transmission from humans to mosquitoes is an understudied bottleneck in the transmission of malaria. Direct membrane feeding assays (DMFA) allow detailed malaria transmission studies from humans to mosquitoes. Especially for Plasmodium vivax, which cannot be cultured long-term under laboratory conditions, implementation of DMFAs requires proximity to P. vivax endemic areas. In this study, we investigated the infectivity of symptomatic Plasmodium infections to Anopheles farauti colony mosquitoes in Papua New Guinea (PNG). A total of 182 DMFAs were performed with venous blood collected from rapid diagnostic test (RDT) positive symptomatic malaria patients and subsequently analysed by light microscopy and quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). DMFAs resulted in mosquito infections in 20.9% (38/182) of cases. By light microscopy and qPCR, 10 - 11% of P. falciparum and 32 - 44% of P. vivax positive individuals infected An. farauti. Fifty-eight percent of P. vivax and 15% of P. falciparum gametocytaemic infections infected An farauti.
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    Sensitive detection of Plasmodium vivax malaria by the rotating-crystal magneto-optical method in Thailand
    Orban, A ; Longley, RJ ; Sripoorote, P ; Maneechai, N ; Nguitragool, W ; Butykai, A ; Mueller, I ; Sattabongkot, J ; Karl, S ; Kezsmarki, I (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2021-09-17)
    The rotating-crystal magneto-optical detection (RMOD) method has been developed for the rapid and quantitative diagnosis of malaria and tested systematically on various malaria infection models. Very recently, an extended field trial in a high-transmission region of Papua New Guinea demonstrated its great potential for detecting malaria infections, in particular Plasmodium vivax. In the present small-scale field test, carried out in a low-transmission area of Thailand, RMOD confirmed malaria in all samples found to be infected with Plasmodium vivax by microscopy, our reference method. Moreover, the magneto-optical signal for this sample set was typically 1-3 orders of magnitude higher than the cut-off value of RMOD determined on uninfected samples. Based on the serial dilution of the original patient samples, we expect that the method can detect Plasmodium vivax malaria in blood samples with parasite densities as low as [Formula: see text]5-10 parasites per microliter, a limit around the pyrogenic threshold of the infection. In addition, by investigating the correlation between the magnitude of the magneto-optical signal, the parasite density and the erythrocytic stage distribution, we estimate the relative hemozoin production rates of the ring and the trophozoite stages of in vivo Plasmodium vivax infections.
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    Investigating differences in village-level heterogeneity of malaria infection and household risk factors in Papua New Guinea
    Gul, D ; Rodriguez-Rodriguez, D ; Nate, E ; Auwan, A ; Salib, M ; Lorry, L ; Keven, JB ; Katusele, M ; Rosado, J ; Hofmann, N ; Ome-Kaius, M ; Koepfli, C ; Felger, I ; Kazura, JW ; Hetzel, MW ; Mueller, I ; Karl, S ; Clements, ACA ; Fowkes, FJ ; Laman, M ; Robinson, LJ (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2021-08-16)
    Malaria risk is highly heterogeneous. Understanding village and household-level spatial heterogeneity of malaria risk can support a transition to spatially targeted interventions for malaria elimination. This analysis uses data from cross-sectional prevalence surveys conducted in 2014 and 2016 in two villages (Megiar and Mirap) in Papua New Guinea. Generalised additive modelling was used to characterise spatial heterogeneity of malaria risk and investigate the contribution of individual, household and environmental-level risk factors. Following a period of declining malaria prevalence, the prevalence of P. falciparum increased from 11.4 to 19.1% in Megiar and 12.3 to 28.3% in Mirap between 2014 and 2016, with focal hotspots observed in these villages in 2014 and expanding in 2016. Prevalence of P. vivax was similar in both years (20.6% and 18.3% in Megiar, 22.1% and 23.4% in Mirap) and spatial risk heterogeneity was less apparent compared to P. falciparum. Within-village hotspots varied by Plasmodium species across time and between villages. In Megiar, the adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of infection could be partially explained by household factors that increase risk of vector exposure, such as collecting outdoor surface water as a main source of water. In Mirap, increased AOR overlapped with proximity to densely vegetated areas of the village. The identification of household and environmental factors associated with increased spatial risk may serve as useful indicators of transmission hotspots and inform the development of tailored approaches for malaria control.
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    Molecular epidemiology of residual Plasmodium vivax transmission in a paediatric cohort in Solomon Islands
    Quah, YW ; Waltmann, A ; Karl, S ; White, MT ; Vahi, V ; Darcy, A ; Pitakaka, F ; Whittaker, M ; Tisch, DJ ; Barry, A ; Barnadas, C ; Kazura, J ; Mueller, I (BMC, 2019-03-28)
    BACKGROUND: Following the scale-up of intervention efforts, malaria burden has decreased dramatically in Solomon Islands (SI). Submicroscopic and asymptomatic Plasmodium vivax infections are now the major challenge for malaria elimination in this country. Since children have higher risk of contracting malaria, this study investigated the dynamics of Plasmodium spp. infections among children including the associated risk factors of residual P. vivax burden. METHODS: An observational cohort study was conducted among 860 children aged 0.5-12 years in Ngella (Central Islands Province, SI). Children were monitored by active and passive surveillances for Plasmodium spp. infections and illness. Parasites were detected by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and genotyped. Comprehensive statistical analyses of P. vivax infection prevalence, molecular force of blood stage infection (molFOB) and infection density were conducted. RESULTS: Plasmodium vivax infections were common (overall prevalence: 11.9%), whereas Plasmodium falciparum infections were rare (0.3%) but persistent. Although children acquire an average of 1.1 genetically distinct P. vivax blood-stage infections per year, there was significant geographic heterogeneity in the risks of P. vivax infections across Ngella (prevalence: 1.2-47.4%, p < 0.01; molFOB: 0.05-4.6/year, p < 0.01). Malaria incidence was low (IR: 0.05 episodes/year-at-risk). Age and measures of high exposure were the key risk factors for P. vivax infections and disease. Malaria incidence and infection density decreased with age, indicating significant acquisition of immunity. G6PD deficient children (10.8%) that did not receive primaquine treatment had a significantly higher prevalence (aOR: 1.77, p = 0.01) and increased risk of acquiring new bloodstage infections (molFOB aIRR: 1.51, p = 0.03), underscoring the importance of anti-relapse treatment. CONCLUSION: Residual malaria transmission in Ngella exhibits strong heterogeneity and is characterized by a high proportion of submicroscopic and asymptomatic P. vivax infections, alongside sporadic P. falciparum infections. Implementing an appropriate primaquine treatment policy to prevent P. vivax relapses and specific targeting of control interventions to high risk areas will be required to accelerate ongoing control and elimination activities.
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    Efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in Papua New Guinea
    Tavul, L ; Hetzel, MW ; Teliki, A ; Walsh, D ; Kiniboro, B ; Rare, L ; Pulford, J ; Siba, PM ; Karl, S ; Makita, L ; Robinson, L ; Kattenberg, JH ; Laman, M ; Oswyn, G ; Mueller, I (BMC, 2018-10-05)
    BACKGROUND: In 2009, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Department of Health adopted artemether-lumefantrine (AL) and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PPQ) as the first- and second-line treatments for uncomplicated malaria, respectively. This study was conducted to assess the efficacy of both drugs following adoption of the new policy. METHODS: Between June 2012 and September 2014, a therapeutic efficacy study was conducted in East Sepik and Milne Bay Provinces of PNG in accordance with the standard World Health Organization (WHO) protocol for surveillance of anti-malarial drug efficacy. Patients ≥ 6 months of age with microscopy confirmed Plasmodium falciparum or Plasmodium vivax mono-infections were enrolled, treated with AL or DHA-PPQ, and followed up for 42 days. Study endpoints were adequate clinical and parasitological response (ACPR) on days 28 and 42. The in vitro efficacy of anti-malarials and the prevalence of selected molecular markers of resistance were also determined. RESULTS: A total of 274 P. falciparum and 70 P. vivax cases were enrolled. The day-42 PCR-corrected ACPR for P. falciparum was 98.1% (104/106) for AL and 100% (135/135) for DHA-PPQ. The day-42 PCR-corrected ACPR for P. vivax was 79.0% (15/19) for AL and 92.3% (36/39) for DHA-PPQ. Day 3 parasite clearance of P. falciparum was 99.2% with AL and 100% with DHA-PPQ. In vitro testing of 96 samples revealed low susceptibility to chloroquine (34% of samples above IC50 threshold) but not to lumefantrine (0%). Molecular markers assessed in a sub-set of the study population indicated high rates of chloroquine resistance in P. falciparum (pfcrt SVMNT: 94.2%, n = 104) and in P. vivax (pvmdr1 Y976F: 64.8%, n = 54). CONCLUSIONS: AL and DHA-PPQ were efficacious as first- and second-line treatments for uncomplicated malaria in PNG. Continued in vivo efficacy monitoring is warranted considering the threat of resistance to artemisinin and partner drugs in the region and scale-up of artemisinin-based combination therapy in PNG.
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    Mathematical modelling of the impact of expanding levels of malaria control interventions on Plasmodium vivax
    White, MT ; Walker, P ; Karl, S ; Hetzel, MW ; Freeman, T ; Waltmann, A ; Laman, M ; Robinson, LJ ; Ghani, A ; Mueller, I (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2018-08-17)
    Plasmodium vivax poses unique challenges for malaria control and elimination, notably the potential for relapses to maintain transmission in the face of drug-based treatment and vector control strategies. We developed an individual-based mathematical model of P. vivax transmission calibrated to epidemiological data from Papua New Guinea (PNG). In many settings in PNG, increasing bed net coverage is predicted to reduce transmission to less than 0.1% prevalence by light microscopy, however there is substantial risk of rebounds in transmission if interventions are removed prematurely. In several high transmission settings, model simulations predict that combinations of existing interventions are not sufficient to interrupt P. vivax transmission. This analysis highlights the potential options for the future of P. vivax control: maintaining existing public health gains by keeping transmission suppressed through indefinite distribution of interventions; or continued development of strategies based on existing and new interventions to push for further reduction and towards elimination.
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    Temporal changes in Plasmodium falciparum anti-malarial drug sensitivity in vitro and resistance-associated genetic mutations in isolates from Papua New Guinea
    Koleala, T ; Karl, S ; Laman, M ; Moore, BR ; Benjamin, J ; Barnadas, C ; Robinson, LJ ; Kattenberg, JH ; Javati, S ; Wong, RPM ; Rosanas-Urgell, A ; Betuela, I ; Siba, PM ; Mueller, I ; Davis, TME (BMC, 2015-01-28)
    BACKGROUND: In northern Papua New Guinea (PNG), most Plasmodium falciparum isolates proved resistant to chloroquine (CQ) in vitro between 2005 and 2007, and there was near-fixation of pfcrt K76T, pfdhfr C59R/S108N and pfmdr1 N86Y. To determine whether the subsequent introduction of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) and reduced CQ-sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine pressure had attenuated parasite drug susceptibility and resistance-associated mutations, these parameters were re-assessed between 2011 and 2013. METHODS: A validated fluorescence-based assay was used to assess growth inhibition of 52 P. falciparum isolates from children in a clinical trial in Madang Province. Responses to CQ, lumefantrine, piperaquine, naphthoquine, pyronaridine, artesunate, dihydroartemisinin, artemether were assessed. Molecular resistance markers were detected using a multiplex PCR ligase detection reaction fluorescent microsphere assay. RESULTS: CQ resistance (in vitro concentration required for 50% parasite growth inhibition (IC₅₀) >100 nM) was present in 19% of isolates. All piperaquine and naphthoquine IC₅₀s were <100 nM and those for lumefantrine, pyronaridine and the artemisinin derivatives were in low nM ranges. Factor analysis of IC₅₀s showed three groupings (lumefantrine; CQ, piperaquine, naphthoquine; pyronaridine, dihydroartemisinin, artemether, artesunate). Most isolates (96%) were monoclonal pfcrt K76T (SVMNT) mutants and most (86%) contained pfmdr1 N86Y (YYSND). No wild-type pfdhfr was found but most isolates contained wild-type (SAKAA) pfdhps. Compared with 2005-2007, the geometric mean (95% CI) CQ IC₅₀ was lower (87 (71-107) vs 167 (141-197) nM) and there had been no change in the prevalence of pfcrt K76T or pfmdr1 mutations. There were fewer isolates of the pfdhps (SAKAA) wild-type (60 vs 100%) and pfdhfr mutations persisted. CONCLUSIONS: Reflecting less drug pressure, in vitro CQ sensitivity appears to be improving in Madang Province despite continued near-fixation of pfcrt K76T and pfmdr1 mutations. Temporal changes in IC₅₀s for other anti-malarial drugs were inconsistent but susceptibility was preserved. Retention or increases in pfdhfr and pfdhps mutations reflect continued use of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine in the study area including through paediatric intermittent preventive treatment. The susceptibility of local isolates to lumefantrine may be unrelated to those of other ACT partner drugs. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000913077 .
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    Modelling the contribution of the hypnozoite reservoir to Plasmodium vivax transmission
    White, MT ; Karl, S ; Battle, KE ; Hay, SI ; Mueller, I ; Ghani, AC (ELIFE SCIENCES PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2014-11-18)
    Plasmodium vivax relapse infections occur following activation of latent liver-stages parasites (hypnozoites) causing new blood-stage infections weeks to months after the initial infection. We develop a within-host mathematical model of liver-stage hypnozoites, and validate it against data from tropical strains of P. vivax. The within-host model is embedded in a P. vivax transmission model to demonstrate the build-up of the hypnozoite reservoir following new infections and its depletion through hypnozoite activation and death. The hypnozoite reservoir is predicted to be over-dispersed with many individuals having few or no hypnozoites, and some having intensely infected livers. Individuals with more hypnozoites are predicted to experience more relapses and contribute more to onwards P. vivax transmission. Incorporating hypnozoite killing drugs such as primaquine into first-line treatment regimens is predicted to cause substantial reductions in P. vivax transmission as individuals with the most hypnozoites are more likely to relapse and be targeted for treatment.
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    Comparison of three methods for detection of gametocytes in Melanesian children treated for uncomplicated malaria
    Karl, S ; Laman, M ; Koleala, T ; Ibam, C ; Kasian, B ; N'Drewei, N ; Rosanas-Urgell, A ; Moore, BR ; Waltmann, A ; Koepfli, C ; Siba, PM ; Betuela, I ; Woodward, RC ; St Pierre, TG ; Mueller, I ; Davis, TME (BMC, 2014-08-14)
    BACKGROUND: Gametocytes are the transmission stages of Plasmodium parasites, the causative agents of malaria. As their density in the human host is typically low, they are often undetected by conventional light microscopy. Furthermore, application of RNA-based molecular detection methods for gametocyte detection remains challenging in remote field settings. In the present study, a detailed comparison of three methods, namely light microscopy, magnetic fractionation and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction for detection of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax gametocytes was conducted. METHODS: Peripheral blood samples from 70 children aged 0.5 to five years with uncomplicated malaria who were treated with either artemether-lumefantrine or artemisinin-naphthoquine were collected from two health facilities on the north coast of Papua New Guinea. The samples were taken prior to treatment (day 0) and at pre-specified intervals during follow-up. Gametocytes were measured in each sample by three methods: i) light microscopy (LM), ii) quantitative magnetic fractionation (MF) and, iii) reverse transcriptase PCR (RTPCR). Data were analysed using censored linear regression and Bland and Altman techniques. RESULTS: MF and RTPCR were similarly sensitive and specific, and both were superior to LM. Overall, there were approximately 20% gametocyte-positive samples by LM, whereas gametocyte positivity by MF and RTPCR were both more than two-fold this level. In the subset of samples collected prior to treatment, 29% of children were positive by LM, and 85% were gametocyte positive by MF and RTPCR, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The present study represents the first direct comparison of standard LM, MF and RTPCR for gametocyte detection in field isolates. It provides strong evidence that MF is superior to LM and can be used to detect gametocytaemic patients under field conditions with similar sensitivity and specificity as RTPCR.