Seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) is a novel strategy to reduce malaria infections in children. Infection with Plasmodium falciparum results in immune dysfunction characterized by elevated expression of markers associated with exhaustion, such as PD1 and LAG3, and regulatory CD4+FOXP3+ T cells.
Rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) for malaria are common, but their performance varies. Tests using histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2) antigen are most common, and many have high sensitivity. HRP2 tests can remain positive for weeks after treatment, limiting their specificity and usefulness in high-transmission settings. Tests using Plasmodium lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH) have been less widely used but have higher specificity, mostly due to a much shorter time to become negative.
Sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine (SP) is a cornerstone of malaria chemoprophylaxis and is considered for programmes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, SP efficacy is threatened by drug resistance, that is conferred by mutations in the dhfr and dhps genes. The World Health Organization has specified that intermittent preventive treatment for infants (IPTi) with SP should be implemented only if the prevalence of the dhps K540E mutation is under 50%. There are limited current data on the prevalence of resistance-conferring mutations available from Eastern DRC. The current study aimed to address this knowledge gap.