Washington DC: A new study has pointed out that eliminating malaria in the Asia-Pacific could prove more challenging than previously thought as most childhood malaria infections in the endemic areas are the result of relapsed, not new, infections.
The international study found that four out of five children in Papua New Guinea (PNG) aged five to 10 years old were susceptible to recurring infection with the malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax, which can ‘hide’ undetected in the liver. P. vivax is the most widespread malaria parasite worldwide, and the predominant cause of malaria in the vast majority of countries outside Africa.
The discovery has significant repercussions for the country’s – and region’s – malaria control program, as well as other areas globally where P. vivax is a significant cause of malaria, such as Central and South America, South and South-East Asia and the Middle East.
Leanne Robinson said the research showed relapsing infections with P. vivax were responsible for 80 per cent of infections in PNG children aged five to 10 years.
Robinson said P. vivax malaria was problematic for global malaria control efforts, especially in PNG and the Asia-Pacific where it is the major cause of infection and illness in young children.
The research is published in PLOS Medicine.