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Int J Parasitol. 2010 Aug 15;40(10):1213-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2010.04.010. Epub 2010 May 9.

Low infectivity of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes to Anopheles gambiae following treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine in Mali.

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Malaria Research and Training Center, Department of Epidemiology of Parasitic Diseases, University of Bamako, P.O. Box 1805, Point G, Bamako, Mali.


Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) treatment increases the rate of gametocyte carriage and selects SP resistance-conferring mutations in Plasmodium falciparum dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) and dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS), raising concerns of increased malaria transmission and spread of drug resistance. In a setting in Mali where SP was highly efficacious, we measured the prevalence of DHFR and DHPS mutations in P. falciparum infections with microscopy-detected gametocytes following SP treatment, and used direct feeding to assess infectivity to Anopheles gambiae sensu lato. Children and young adults presenting with uncomplicated malaria were treated with SP or chloroquine and followed for 28 days. Gametocyte carriage peaked at 67% 1 week after treatment with a single dose of SP. Those post-SP gametocytes carried significantly more DHFR and DHPS mutations than pre-treatment asexual parasites from the same population. Only 0.5% of 1728 mosquitoes fed on SP-treated gametocyte carriers developed oocysts, while 11% of 198 mosquitoes fed on chloroquine-treated gametocyte carriers were positive for oocysts. This study shows that in an area of high SP efficacy, although SP treatment sharply increased gametocyte carriage, the infectiousness of these gametocytes to the vector may be very low. Accurate and robust methods for measuring infectivity are needed to guide malaria control interventions that affect transmission.

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