Asymptomatic and sub-microscopic Plasmodium falciparum infection in children in the Mount Cameroon area: a cross-sectional study on altitudinal influence, haematological parameters and risk factors

Irene Ule Ngole Sumbele, Rene Ning Teh, Gillian Asoba Nkeudem, Sorelle Mekachie Sandie, Marcel Nyuylam Moyeh, Robert Adamu Shey, Cabirou Mounchili Shintouo, Stephen Mbigha Ghogomu, Gaber El‑Saber Batiha, Luay Alkazmi, Helen Kuokuo Kimbi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: The Mount Cameroon area has experienced a 57.2% decline in confirmed malaria cases between 2006 and 2013 with the implementation of different control measures but, the disease is still of public health concern. The objective of the study was to assess the burden of asymptomatic and sub-microscopic Plasmodium infection, altitudinal influence on it, their effect on haematological parameters as well as identify the risk factors of infection. Methodology: A cross-sectional community-based survey involving 1319 children of both sexes aged 6 months to 14 years was conducted between July 2017 and May 2018. Malaria parasitaemia was confirmed by Giemsa-stained microscopy, sub-microscopic Plasmodium infection by 18S mRNA using nested PCR and full blood count analysis was done using an auto haematology analyser. Results: Malaria parasite, asymptomatic malaria parasitaemia and sub-microscopic Plasmodium infection and anaemia were prevalent in 36.4%, 34.0%, 43.8% and 62.3% of the children, respectively. The risk of having sub-microscopic Plasmodium infection was highest in children 5‒9 (OR = 3.13, P < 0.001) and 10‒14 years of age (OR = 8.18, P < 0.001), non-insecticide treated net users (OR = 1.69, P < 0.04) and those anaemic (OR = 9.01, P < 0.001). Children with sub-microscopic infection had a significantly lower mean haemoglobin (9.86 ± 1.7 g/dL, P < 0.001), red blood cell counts (4.48 ± 1.1 × 1012/L, P < 0.001), haematocrit (31.92%, P < 0.001), mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (313.25 ± 47.36, P = 0.035) and platelet counts (280.83 ± 112.62, P < 0.001) than their negative counterparts. Children < 5 years old (73.8%), having asymptomatic (69.8%) and sub-microscopic Plasmodium infection (78.3%) as well as resident in the middle belt (72.7%) had a higher prevalence of anaemia than their peers. Conclusion: The meaningful individual-level heterogeneity in the burden of asymptomatic and sub-microscopic Plasmodium infection in addition to its corollary on haematological variables among children in the different attitudinal sites of the Mount Cameroon Region accentuate the need for strategic context specific planning of malaria control and preventative measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-396
Number of pages14
JournalMalaria Journal
Volume20
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Anaemia
  • Asymptomatic malaria
  • Haematological parameters
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Sub‑microscopic infection

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