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Absence of dry season Plasmodium parasitaemia, but high rates of reported acute respiratory infection and diarrhoea in preschool-aged children in Kaédi, southern Mauritania

Touray, Sunkaru, Bâ, Hampâté, Bâ, Ousmane, Koïta, Mohamedou, Salem, Cheikh B Ould Ahmed, Keïta, Moussa, Traoré, Doulo, Sy, Ibrahima, Winkler, Mirko S, Utzinger, Jürg, Cissé, Guéladio
Parasites & vectors 2012 v.5 no.1 pp. 193
Culicidae, Plasmodium, blood, climate change, cross-sectional studies, diagnostic techniques, diarrhea, dry season, epidemiology, households, malaria, parasitemia, parasites, preschool children, questionnaires, rain, rivers, surveys, temperature, wet season, Mauritania, Senegal
BACKGROUND: The epidemiology of malaria in the Senegal River Gorgol valley, southern Mauritania, requires particular attention in the face of ongoing and predicted environmental and climate changes. While “malaria cases” are reported in health facilities throughout the year, past and current climatic and ecological conditions do not favour transmission in the dry season (lack of rainfall and very high temperatures). Moreover, entomological investigations in neighbouring regions point to an absence of malaria transmission in mosquito vectors in the dry season. Because the clinical signs of malaria are non-specific and overlap with those of other diseases (e.g. acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea), new research is needed to better understand malaria transmission patterns in this region to improve adaptive, preventive and curative measures. METHODS: We conducted a multipurpose cross-sectional survey in the city of Kaédi in April 2011 (dry season), assessing three major disease patterns, including malaria. Plasmodium spp. parasite rates were tested among children aged 6–59 months who were recruited from a random selection of households using a rapid diagnostic test and microscopic examination of Giemsa-stained thick and thin blood films. Acute respiratory infection and diarrhoea were the two other diseases investigated, administering a parental questionnaire to determine the reported prevalence among participating children. FINDINGS: No Plasmodium infection was found in any of the 371 surveyed preschool-aged children using two different diagnostic methods. Acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea were reported in 43.4% and 35.0% of the participants, respectively. About two thirds of the children with acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea required medical follow-up by a health worker. CONCLUSIONS: Malaria was absent in the present dry season survey in the capital of the Gorgol valley of Mauritania, while acute respiratory infections and diarrhea were highly prevalent. Surveys should be repeated towards the end of rainy season, which will enhance our understanding of the potential changes in malaria transmission in a region known as ‘hot spot’ of predicted climate change.