Transmission of Plasmodium vivax in south-western Uganda: report of three cases in pregnant women.
Dhorda M., Nyehangane D., Rénia L., Piola P., Guerin PJ., Snounou G.
Plasmodium vivax is considered to be rare in the predominantly Duffy negative populations of Sub-Saharan Africa, as this red blood cell surface antigen is essential for invasion by the parasite. However, despite only very few reports of molecularly confirmed P. vivax from tropical Africa, serological evidence indicated that 13% of the persons sampled in Congo had been exposed to P. vivax. We identified P. vivax by microscopy in 8 smears from Ugandan pregnant women who had been enrolled in a longitudinal study of malaria in pregnancy. A nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) protocol was used to detect and identify the Plasmodium parasites present. PCR analysis confirmed the presence of P. vivax for three of the women and analysis of all available samples from these women revealed clinically silent chronic low-grade vivax infections for two of them. The parasites in one woman carried pyrimethamine resistance-associated double non-synonymous mutations in the P. vivax dihydrofolate reductase gene. The three women found infected with P. vivax were Duffy positive as were nine of 68 women randomly selected from the cohort. The data presented from these three case reports is consistent with stable transmission of malaria in a predominantly Duffy negative African population. Given the substantial morbidity associated with vivax infection in non-African endemic areas, it will be important to investigate whether the distribution and prevalence of P. vivax have been underestimated in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is particularly important in the context of the drive to eliminate malaria and its morbidity.