Serologic markers for detecting malaria in areas of low endemicity, Somalia, 2008
Areas in which malaria is not highly endemic are suitable for malaria elimination, but assessing transmission is difficult because of lack of sensitivity of commonly used methods. We evaluated serologic markers for detecting variation in malaria exposure in Somalia. Plasmodium falciparum or P. vivax was not detected by microscopy in cross-sectional surveys of samples from persons during the dry (0/1,178) and wet (0/1,128) seasons. Antibody responses against P. falciparum or P. vivax were detected in 17.9% (179/1,001) and 19.3% (202/1,044) of persons tested. Reactivity against P. falciparum was significantly different between 3 villages (p<0.001); clusters of seroreactivity were present. Distance to the nearest seasonal river was negatively associated with P. falciparum (p = 0.028) and P. vivax seroreactivity (p = 0.016). Serologic markers are a promising tool for detecting spatial variation in malaria exposure and evaluating malaria control efforts in areas where transmission has decreased to levels below the detection limit of microscopy.