1 Centro de Malária e outras Doenças Tropicais (CMDT), IHMT/UNL, Rua da Junqueira 96, 1349-008 Lisbon, Portugal.
2 Centro de Investigação em Saúde da Manhiça (CISM)/Ministério de Saúde, Maputo, Mozambique.
3 Instituto Nacional de Saúde, Ministério de Saúde, Maputo, Mozambique.
4 Unidad de Epidemiología y Bioestadística, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona, Spain.
We compared the distribution patterns of individual Plasmodium species and mixed-species infections in two geographically close endemic areas, but showing environmental differences. Comparisons concerned circulating Plasmodium infections in both human and mosquito vector populations in the dry and wet seasons, at a micro-epidemiological level (households). Both areas revealed a very high overall prevalence of infection, all year-round and in all age groups. Plasmodium falciparum was the predominant species, being found in the vast majority of infected individuals regardless of the presence of other species. Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium ovale occurred almost exclusively in mixed infections. Seasonal variation in P. malariae prevalence was observed in one area but not in the other. A decrease in P. malariae prevalence concurred with a marked increase of P. falciparum prevalence. However this was strongly dependent on age and when analysing infections at the individual level, a different pattern between co-infecting species was unveiled. Regarding transmission patterns, in both areas, P. falciparum gametocytes predominated in single infections regardless of age and P. malariae gametocyte carriage increased when its overall prevalence decreased.
Keywords: Plasmodium, mixed infections, transmission, Mozambique