The authors declare no competing intellectual nor financial interest.
RBN conceived and wrote the proposal with contributions from VPKT and HKK. RBN, KMK and RCN implemented the study and data collection. RBN, DZ, VPKT and HKK carried out data management, analysis and interpretation. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
RBN (M.Sc) final year Ph.D student in the Department of Zoology and Animal Physiology and an assistant lecturer of Microbiology and Parasitology in the University of Buea.
DZ (Ph.D) is Senior Instructor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the University of Buea.
HKK (Ph.D) is an Associate Professor of Medical Parasitology, Department of Zoology and Animal Physiology in the University of Buea.
KMK (B.Sc) is an M.Sc student of Natural Resource Management in the Department of Environmental Science, University of Buea.
RCN (MD) is a medical doctor in Mboppi Baptist Hospital in Douala, Cameroon.
VPKT (Ph.D) is Vice-Chancellor & CEO, Cameroon Christian University, TWAS Professor of Biotechnology, Vice President of the African Academy of Sciences for Central African Region
Global malaria has been on the decline over the past decade due to expansion of interventions. The present study aimed at determining the current status of malaria epidemiology in the context of sustained interventions and seasonal variations in Bolifamba, which represents a typical semi-urban malaria endemic community in the Cameroonian rainforest.
A monthly cross-sectional survey was carried out in Bolifamba, a multi ethnic semi-urban locality on the eastern flanks of Mt Cameroon, for a year during which blood samples were collected from participants and examined for malaria parasites by microscopy. Correlation analysis of seasonal/monthly malaria prevalence was done with weather data from Ekona, a nearby village with a meteorological station. Intervention strategy such as use of Insecticide Treated Bed Net (ITBN) and risk factors such as duration of stay in the locality, age and housing type were also investigated.
The results revealed a malaria prevalence of 38.3 % in the rainy season, which was significantly higher than 24.4 % observed in the dry season (P < 0.0001). A high prevalence of asymptomatic malaria which was more than double the prevalence of symptomatic malaria on a monthly basis was observed, 30.7 % vs 17.8 % in the rainy and dry season respectively (p < 0.0001) and asymptomatic malaria was significantly associated with anemia (p < 0.005). April was the peak month of malaria prevalence and coincided with peak periods of both asymptomatic and symptomatic malaria. The Plasmodium falciparum parasite rates in the 2- up to 10-years age group (PfPR(2–10)) was 40.8 %. The regular use of ITBN was significantly associated with low prevalence of 31.7 % as opposed to irregular or non-usage of ITBN 38.2 % (p < 0.05). Log of parasite load was found to initially increase to 2.49 with less than 5 years of stay, and decreased gradually with increasing duration of stay in the locality (p = 0.046). Climatic factors were significantly and positively associated with monthly malaria prevalence and the strongest predictors of malaria prevalence were rainfall and minimum temperature with r values of 0.563 and 0.6 respectively.
The study highlights the role of seasonal change in modifying malaria prevalence during the year and the beneficial effect of ITBN. It also underscores a sublime problem of asymptomatic malaria associated with anemia, and indicates that partial immunity is acquired with prolonged stay in Bolifamba. This preliminary result is the basis of ongoing work to identify the antigens involved in acquired immunity.