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PLoS One. 2014 Apr 1;9(4):e93684. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093684. eCollection 2014.

Serological measures of malaria transmission in Haiti: comparison of longitudinal and cross-sectional methods.

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Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California, United States of America.
Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.
Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.



Efforts to monitor malaria transmission increasingly use cross-sectional surveys to estimate transmission intensity from seroprevalence data using malarial antibodies. To date, seroconversion rates estimated from cross-sectional surveys have not been compared to rates estimated in prospective cohorts. Our objective was to compare seroconversion rates estimated in a prospective cohort with those from a cross-sectional survey in a low-transmission population.


The analysis included two studies from Haiti: a prospective cohort of 142 children ages ≤ 11 years followed for up to 9 years, and a concurrent cross-sectional survey of 383 individuals ages 0-90 years old. From all individuals, we analyzed 1,154 blood spot specimens for the malaria antibody MSP-1(19) using a multiplex bead antigen assay. We classified individuals as positive for malaria using a cutoff derived from the mean plus 3 standard deviations in antibody responses from a negative control set of unexposed individuals. We estimated prospective seroconversion rates from the longitudinal cohort based on 13 incident seroconversions among 646 person-years at risk. We also estimated seroconversion rates from the cross-sectional survey using a reversible catalytic model fit with maximum likelihood. We found the two approaches provided consistent results: the seroconversion rate for ages ≤ 11 years was 0.020 (0.010, 0.032) estimated prospectively versus 0.023 (0.001, 0.052) in the cross-sectional survey.


The estimation of seroconversion rates using cross-sectional data is a widespread and generalizable problem for many infectious diseases that can be measured using antibody titers. The consistency between these two estimates lends credibility to model-based estimates of malaria seroconversion rates using cross-sectional surveys. This study also demonstrates the utility of including malaria antibody measures in multiplex assays alongside targets for vaccine coverage and other neglected tropical diseases, which together could comprise an integrated, large-scale serological surveillance platform.

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