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Malar J. 2019 Aug 27;18(1):292. doi: 10.1186/s12936-019-2927-3.

Sero-identification of the aetiologies of human malaria exposure (Plasmodium spp.) in the Limu Kossa District of Jimma Zone, South western Ethiopia.

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Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Department of Microbial, Cellular and Molecular Biology, College of Natural Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, USA.



Malaria remains a very important public health problem in Ethiopia. Currently, only Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax are considered in the malaria diagnostic and treatment policies. However, the existence and prevalence of Plasmodium ovale spp. and Plasmodium malariae in Ethiopia have not been extensively investigated. The objective of this study was to use a multiplex IgG antibody detection assay to evaluate evidence for exposure to any of these four human malaria parasites among asymptomatic individuals.


Dried blood spots (DBS) were collected from 180 healthy study participants during a 2016 onchocerciasis survey in the Jimma Zone, southwest Ethiopia. IgG antibody reactivity was detected using a multiplex bead assay for seven Plasmodium antigens: P. falciparum circumsporozoite protein (CSP), P. falciparum apical membrane antigen-1 (AMA1), P. falciparum liver stage antigen-1 (LSA1), and homologs of the merozoite surface protein-1 (MSP1)-19kD antigens that are specific for P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale spp. and P. malariae.


One hundred six participants (59%) were IgG seropositive for at least one of the Plasmodium antigens tested. The most frequent responses were against P. falciparum AMA1 (59, 33%) and P. vivax (55, 28%). However, IgG antibodies against P. ovale spp. and P. malariae were detected in 19 (11%) and 13 (7%) of the participants, respectively, providing serological evidence that P. malariae and P. ovale spp., which are rarely reported, may also be endemic in Jimma.


The findings highlight the informative value of multiplex serology and the need to confirm whether P. malariae and P. ovale spp. are aetiologies of malaria in Ethiopia, which is critical for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Ethiopia; IgG antibodies; Malaria; Multiplex bead assay; Plasmodium species; Sero-diagnosis

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