6. Multiple Plasmodium falciparum infections in Tanzanian infants

Felger, I. ; Smith, T. ; Edoh, D. ; Kitua, A. ; Alonso, P. ; Tanner, M. ; Beck, H.-P

In: Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 1999, vol. 93, no. Supplement_1, p. 29-34

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    Paired blood samples from 99 Tanzanian infants were analysed to examine the infection dynamics of Plasmodium falciparum during the first year of life. Infecting parasites were genotyped by polymerase chain reaction amplification of the polymorphic gene for the merozoite surface protein 2 and subsequent analysis according to the resulting restriction fragment length polymorphism pattern. The same samples served as controls in a parallel case-control study for which an additional blood sample was taken from each child during a fever episode. The relationship of the number of concurrent infections (multiplicity) with age and morbidity was analysed and results were compared to those of a similar study on older children between 2 and 7 years of age, carried out in the same village at the same time. The mean of 2 infecting genotypes per positive blood sample from community surveys was low compared to that in older children, and there was no significant age-dependency of multiplicity within the first year of life. Multiplicity of infection in fever cases was also independent of age. In infants, multiplicity was positively associated with parasite density and risk of clinical malaria, in contrast to the situation in older children (>2 years). The findings help in the understanding of infection dynamics, premunition, and development of semi-immunity in malaria