By: MESA Project Officer Mar Velarde
Do not miss the webcasts from ASTMH on 'Assessing the human infectious reservoir of malaria'. The session highlights important scientific advances as well as gaps of knowledge in this field. As the speakers explained during this session, currently we do not have a marker of infectiousness and we rely on mosquito feeding assays to assess infectivity. Although membrane feeding assays have shortcomings in estimating infectiousness, they can provide relevant information.
As illustrated during Teun Bousema´s (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) presentation, recent studies carried out in Africa show that sub-microscopic infections contribute to transmission in low, medium and high endemic settings. Moreover, study results suggest that in low transmission settings infectiousness is not restricted to a particular age group; all age groups seem to be capable of infecting mosquitoes. Ivo Muller (Barcelona Institute for Global Health) also talked about ongoing infectivity studies outside Africa which show that asymptomatic P. vivax infections are also infectious to mosquitoes and constitute a reservoir of transmission.
In addition to membrane feeding assays, molecular studies can provide valuable information regarding infection dynamics. Ingrid Felger (Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute) and Marti Matthias (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) described molecular assays which can help us to detect gametocytes and can be used to assess the effectiveness of a particular treatment on reducing gametocyte carriage.
The speakers of this session not only presented their most recent work, but also highlighted lessons learned and next steps in assessing the human infectious reservoir. In moving forward, more research is needed on the correlation between gametocyte density and infections rates, and on the markers of infectious gametocytes. Future longitudinal studies may contribute to better understand the dynamics of transmission over time.
You can access the webcasts of this session from ASTMH in the MESA Knowledge hub by clicking here.