Comparison of microscopy, nested-PCR, and Real-Time-PCR assays using high-throughput screening of pooled samples for diagnosis of malaria in asymptomatic carriers from areas of endemicity in Myanmar.
Myanmar has the heaviest burden of malaria in the Greater Mekong Sub-region. Asymptomatic Plasmodium spp. infections are common in this region and may represent an important reservoir of transmission that must be targeted for malaria elimination. A mass blood survey was conducted among 485 individuals from six villages in Kayah State, an area of endemic but low transmission malaria in eastern Myanmar. Malaria infection was screened by rapid diagnostic test (RDT), light microscopy and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and its association with demographic factors was explored. The prevalence of asymptomatic Plasmodium spp. infection was 2.3% (11/485) by real-time PCR. Plasmodium vivax accounted for 72.7% (8/11) and Plasmodium falciparum for 27.3% (3/11) of infections. Men were at greater risk of infection by Plasmodium spp. than women. Individuals who worked as farmers or wood and bamboo cutters had an increased risk of infection. A combination of RDT, light microscopy and PCR diagnostics were used to identify asymptomatic malaria infection, providing additional information on asymptomatic cases in addition to the routine statistics on symptomatic cases, so as to determine the true burden of disease in the area. Such information and risk factors can improve malaria risk stratification and guide decision-makers towards better design and delivery of targeted interventions in small villages, representative of Kayah State.