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High prevalence and genetic diversity of Plasmodium malariae and no evidence of Plasmodium knowlesi in Bangladesh

Fuehrer, Hans-Peter, Swoboda, Paul, Harl, Josef, Starzengruber, Peter, Habler, Verena Elisabeth, Bloeschl, Ingrid, Haque, Rashidul, Matt, Julia, Khan, Wasif Ali, Noedl, Harald
Parasitology research 2014 v.113 no.4 pp. 1537-1543
Plasmodium knowlesi, Plasmodium malariae, dry season, fever, genes, genetic variation, headache, malaria, parasites, patients, polymerase chain reaction, ribosomal RNA, Bangladesh
Although the prevalence of malaria remains high in parts of Bangladesh, there continues to be a substantial shortage of information regarding the less common malaria parasites such as Plasmodium malariae or Plasmodium knowlesi. Recent studies indicate that P. malariae may be extremely rare, and so far, there are no data on the presence (or absence) of P. knowlesi in southeastern Bangladesh. Genus- and species-specific nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis of the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene was performed to assess the presence and prevalence of P. malariae and P. knowlesi in 2,246 samples originating from asymptomatic and febrile participants of a cross-sectional and a febrile illnesses study in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in southeastern Bangladesh. P. malariae was detected in 60 samples (2.7 %) corresponding to 8 % of the 746 samples giving positive PCR results for Plasmodium sp., mainly because of the high prevalence (9.5 %) among asymptomatic study participants testing positive for malaria. Symptomatic cases were more common (4.3 % of all symptomatic malaria cases) during the dry season. Parasitemias were low (1,120–2,560/μl in symptomatic and 120–520/μl in asymptomatic carriers). Symptomatic patients presented mild to moderate symptoms like fever, chills, headache, dizziness, fatigue and myalgia.Although both the intermediate as well as the definite host are known to be endemic in southeastern Bangladesh, no evidence for the presence of P. knowlesi was found. We conclude that the role of P. malariae is highly underestimated in rural Bangladesh with major implications for malaria control and elimination strategies.