Prevalence of Malaria Parasite Infections among U.S.-Bound Congolese Refugees with and without Splenomegaly

Author/s: Moses Mwesigwa, Jessica L. Webster, Sam Lubwama Nsobya, Alexander Rowan, Mukunda Singh Basnet, Christina R. Phares, Michelle Weinberg, Alexander Klosovsky, Marwan Naoum, Philip J. Rosenthal, William Stauffer
Language: English
Publication Type: Scientific Report (Journal)(External)

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All U.S.-bound refugees from sub-Saharan Africa receive presumptive antimalarial treatment before departing for the United States. Among U.S.-bound Congolese refugees, breakthrough malaria cases and persistent splenomegaly have been reported. In response, an enhanced malaria diagnostic program was instituted. Here, we report the prevalence of plasmodial infection among 803 U.S.-bound Congolese refugees who received enhanced diagnostics. Infections by either rapid diagnostic test (RDT) or PCR were detected in 187 (23%) refugees, with 78 (10%) by RDT only, 35 (4%) by PCR only, and 74 (9%) by both. Infections identified by PCR included 103 monoinfections (87 Plasmodium falciparum, eight Plasmodium ovale, seven Plasmodium vivax, and one Plasmodium malariae) and six mixed infections. Splenomegaly was associated with malaria detectable by RDT (odds ratio: 1.8, 95% CI: 1.0–3.0), but not by PCR. Splenomegaly was not strongly associated with parasitemia, indicating that active malaria parasitemia is not necessary for splenomegaly.

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The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene