Background: Malaria elimination will require that both symptomatic- and asymptomatic-infected persons be identified and treated. However, well-characterized, individual-level risk factors for malaria may not be valid in regions with declining malaria transmission. Changes in individual-level correlates of malaria infection were evaluated over three years in a region of declining malaria transmission in southern Zambia. Methods. Malaria surveys were conducted in two study areas within the catchment area of Macha Hospital, Zambia in 2007 and 2008/2009. A random sample of households was identified from a digitized satellite image of the study areas. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted approximately five times throughout the year in each of the two study areas. During study visits, adults and caretakers of children were administered questionnaires and a blood sample was obtained for a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for malaria. Results: In the 2007 study area, 330 individuals were surveyed. 40.9% of participants lived in a household with at least one insecticide-treated bed net (ITN); however, only 45.2% reported sleeping under the ITN. 23.9% of participants were RDT positive. Correlates of RDT positivity included younger age, the presence of symptoms, testing during the rainy season, using an open water source, and not sleeping under an ITN. In the 2008 study area, 435 individuals were surveyed. 77.0% of participants lived in a household with at least one ITN; however, only 56.4% reported sleeping under the ITN. 8.1% of participants were RDT positive. RDT positivity was negatively correlated with the presence of symptoms within the last two weeks but positively correlated with documented fever. In 2009, 716 individuals were surveyed in the same area as 2008. 63.7% of participants lived in a household with at least one ITN; however, only 57.7% reported sleeping under the ITN. 1.5% of participants were RDT positive. Only self-reported fever was significantly correlated with RDT positivity. Conclusions: With declining malaria prevalence, few individual-level characteristics were correlated with RDT positivity. This lack of correlation with individual characteristics hampers identification of individuals infected with malaria. Strategies based on ecological or environmental risk factors may be needed to target control efforts and achieve further reductions and elimination.
Sutcliffe, C. G.; Kobayashi, T.; Hamapumbu, H.; Shields, T.; Kamanga, A.; Mharakurwa, S.; Thuma, Philip; Glass, G.; and Moss, W. J., "Changing Individual-Level Risk Factors for Malaria With Declining Transmission in Southern Zambia: A Cross-Sectional Study" (2011). Biology Educator Scholarship. 146.