'Test and Treat' model offers new strategy for eliminating malaria

As researchers work to eliminate malaria worldwide, new strategies are needed to find and treat individuals who have malaria, but show no signs of the disease. The prevalence of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic malaria can be as high as 35 percent in populations with malaria and these asymptomatic individuals can serve as a reservoir for spreading malaria even in areas where disease transmission has declined.

In a new study, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute found that a strategy of actively identifying undiagnosed malaria and then treating those with the disease resulted in significantly lower prevalence of malaria cases compared to a . Their findings are published in the February 3 edition of the journal .

"New strategies are needed, particularly in areas of declining transmission. One strategy is to screen people for malaria and treat those who are infected, even those who are not sick enough to go to the clinic," said lead author, Catherine G. Sutcliffe, PhD, an assistant scientist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Epidemiology. "Using artemisinin combination therapy can enhance this strategy, as treatment can reduce transmission to . In regions of declining transmission, the burden of malaria could be reduced to such an extent that elimination is achievable."

The study was conducted in southern Zambia, with colleagues from the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute in Macha. Researchers analyzed data from surveys conducted in 2007 and between 2008 and 2009. In both surveys, households were screened for malaria using and treated with artemisinin when malaria was detected.

According to the new study, a proactive test-and-treat case-detection strategy resulted in a sixfold reduction in prevalence in 2008 and 2009, with the initial parasite prevalence at 4 percent. Test and treat showed a twofold reduction in 2007, when community prevalence was higher at 24 percent.

"Proactive case detection with treatment using artemisinin-combination therapy can reduce transmission and provide indirect protection to household members. If resources permit, this strategy could be targeted to hot spots to achieve further reductions in malaria transmission," said William J. Moss, MD, senior author of the study and associate professor with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Worldwide, malaria afflicts more than 225 million people. The disease kills between 800,000 and 1 million people each year, many of whom are children living in Africa.

More information: Authors of "Reduced Risk of Malaria Parastemia Following Household Screening and Treatment: A Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Cohort Study" include Catherine G. Sutcliffe, PhD; Tamaki Kobayashi, PhD; Harry Hamapumbu; Timothy Shields, MA; Sungano Mharakurwa, PhD; Philip E. Thuma, MD; Thomas A. Louis, PhD; Gregory Glass, PhD; and William J. Moss, MD.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vaccine blocks malaria transmission in lab experiments

Jul 22, 2009

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute have for the first time produced a malarial protein (Pfs48/45) in the proper conformation and quantity to generate a significant immune response in mice and non-human ...

Recommended for you

Two expats die of MERS in Saudi commercial hub

7 hours ago

Two foreigners died of MERS in the Saudi city of Jeddah, the health ministry said Saturday, as fears rise over the spreading respiratory virus in the kingdom's commercial hub.

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

7 hours ago

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

20 hours ago

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

User comments