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

February 6, 2012

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.

Explore further: Wolbachia bacteria reduce parasite levels and kill the mosquito that spreads malaria

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.

Related Stories

Wolbachia bacteria reduce parasite levels and kill the mosquito that spreads malaria

May 19, 2011
Wolbachia are bacteria that infect many insects, including mosquitoes. However, Wolbachia do not naturally infect Anopheles mosquitoes, which are the type that spreads malaria to humans. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg ...

Contrasting patterns of malaria drug resistance found between humans and mosquitoes

November 15, 2011
A study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and their Zambian colleagues detected contrasting patterns of drug resistance in malaria-causing parasites taken from both humans and mosquitoes ...

Recommended for you

New approach to tracking how deadly 'superbugs' travel could slow their spread

November 22, 2017
Killer bacteria - ones that have out-evolved our best antibiotics—may not go away anytime soon. But a new approach to tracking their spread could eventually give us a fighting chance to keep their death toll down.

Research points to diagnostic test for top cause of liver transplant in kids

November 22, 2017
Biliary atresia is the most common cause of liver transplants for children in the United States. Now researchers report in Science Translational Medicine finding a strong biomarker candidate that could be used for earlier ...

Metabolites altered in chronic kidney disease

November 22, 2017
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects 1 in 7 people in the United States, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). These individuals have a very high risk of cardiovascular ...

Rainfall can indicate that mosquito-borne epidemics will occur weeks later

November 22, 2017
A new study demonstrates that outbreaks of mosquito-borne viruses Zika and Chikungunya generally occur about three weeks after heavy rainfall.Researchers also found that Chikungunya will predominate over Zika when both circulate ...

Alcohol consumption and metabolic factors act together to increase the risk of severe liver disease

November 22, 2017
A new study provides insights into the interaction between alcohol consumption and metabolic factors in predicting severe liver disease in the general population. The findings, which are published in Hepatology, indicate ...

Gastric acid suppressant lansoprazole may target tuberculosis

November 21, 2017
A cheap and widely used drug, used to treat conditions such as heartburn, gastritis and ulcers, could work against the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB), according to new research from UCL and the London School of Hygiene ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.