Asymptomatic malaria parasitemia has been reported in areas with high malaria transmission. Asymptomatic malaria carriers may play a significant role as an infection reservoir. Malaria elimination program have also faced challenges due to these parasite carriers and they should be considered in malaria-control programs in endemic areas for successful transmission interruption. The aim of the current study was to determine the prevalence of asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparium and Plasmodium vivax malaria among school children in malaria endemic areas of Mirab Abaya District, Southern Ethiopia. A cross sectional study design was employed from December 2014 to February 2015. A total of 422 school children aged 6 to 15 years were recruited using simple random sampling for this study, and blood samples were collected from asymptomatic school children residing in Mirab Abaya district kebeles. Malaria parasitemia was examined by using light microscopy and rapid diagnostic test (RDT). Asymptomatic malaria carriage was evaluated with the socio-demographic characteristics of the study participants. The data were analyzed using SPSS version 20 software. In this study, the prevalence of asymptomatic Plasmodium carriage was 1.2 and 3.6% with light microscopy and RDT, respectively. The overall prevalence of asymptomatic Plasmodium carriage (P. falciparium and P.vivax) were 15 (3.6%) (95%CI: 1.8-5.5). Of all Plasmodium carriage, 11 (73.4%) school children had P. falciparium and 4 (26.6%) had P. vivax infections. The prevalence of asymptomatic Plasmodium carriage (both in P.falciparium and P.vivax) did not correlate with gender and age group of school children in this study. The study revealed that the prevalence of asymptomatic Plasmodium malaria carriage is low. The result also indicates the ability of RDT to detect more asymptomatic Plasmodium malaria than microscopy. Therefore, treatment of asymptomatic carriers is very important and persistent malaria prevention and control strategies should be enhanced to achieve the elimination program, in endemic malaria areas.
Key words: Asymptomatic malaria, light microscopy, rapid diagnostic test, Plasmodium falciparium, Plasmodium vivax.
RDT, Rapid diagnostic test; PCR, polymerase chain reaction; ITNs, insecticide treated nets; SNNPR, South Nation Nationalities People Region.
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