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Sante. 1998 Jul-Aug;8(4):257-64.

[Malaria in Antananarivo: evaluation of a post-epidemic situation].

[Article in French]

Author information

  • 1Laboratoire du paludisme, Institut Pasteur de Madagascar, Antananarivo, Madagascar.


Antananarivo has a population of close to one million inhabitants and is located in the highlands of Madagascar. The capital was, until some years ago, thought to be a malaria transmission-free zone. However, between 1985 and 1990, several malaria cases occurred in the suburbs of Antananarivo, along the Ikopa river (the Betsimitatatra Plain), suggesting that local transmission was occurring. Numerous malaria cases have since been reported by health workers each year, but there is insufficient epidemiological information about the cause and origin of the transmission, because cases are rarely confirmed by parasitological examination. The National Malaria Control Management in Madagascar has, after four years of intensive DDT spraying campaigns in the highlands, stopped this specific method of control. Epidemiological follow-up studies will be carried out to evaluate the effects on malaria transmission of this cessation of control measures. The transmission of malaria in Antananarivo was studied from 1995 to 1996. Patients from nine health centers in various suburbs of Antananarivo were included in the study, with the presence of fever used as the sole inclusion criterion. Children randomly selected from schools in the same area were included in a second study group. A blood sample was obtained from each participant to determine the parasite index and the prevalence of antibodies against P. falciparum. The splenic index was also determined. A second assessment was performed for the school children six months later, using the same markers of malaria infection. Nine hundred and thirty two patients from the health center group were referred for participation in the study. This represented 10% of all patients and 74% of the patients with fever. The school group included 1,545 children. The splenic index was similarly low (0.5%) in the health center and school groups, as was the overall parasite index (2.6% for the health center group and 0.8% in the school group). The prevalence of antibodies against P. falciparum was also low, but with a seasonal variation: 2.5% in June 1995 and 11.6% in January 1996. Almost all the cases confirmed by parasitological examination were due to the patient having stayed in an area with hyperendemic malaria or having been in contact with an individual who had been to an area with a high level of transmission. Our findings confirm that Antananarivo is now in a post-epidemic situation. Malaria cases are mostly associated with a history of travel in areas with high levels of malaria transmission, particularly the coastal regions of Madagascar. Nevertheless, a low level of transmission may persist and lead to further outbreaks of malaria in the future, due to the presence in the area of Anopheles arabiensis.

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