Surveillance for malaria elimination in Swaziland: A national cross-sectional study using pooled PCR and serology

Michelle S. Hsiang, Jimee Hwang, Simon Kunene, Chris Drakeley, Deepika Kandula, Joseph Novotny, Justin Parizo, Trevor Jensen, Marcus Tong, Jordan Kemere, Sabelo Dlamini, Bruno Moonen, Evelina Angov, Sheetij Dutta, Christian Ockenhouse, Grant Dorsey, Bryan Greenhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Background: To guide malaria elimination efforts in Swaziland and other countries, accurate assessments of transmission are critical. Pooled-PCR has potential to efficiently improve sensitivity to detect infections; serology may clarify temporal and spatial trends in exposure. Methodology/Principal Findings: Using a stratified two-stage cluster, cross-sectional design, subjects were recruited from the malaria endemic region of Swaziland. Blood was collected for rapid diagnostic testing (RDT), pooled PCR, and ELISA detecting antibodies to Plasmodium falciparum surface antigens. Of 4330 participants tested, three were RDT-positive yet false positives by PCR. Pooled PCR led to the identification of one P. falciparum and one P. malariae infection among RDT-negative participants. The P. falciparum-infected participant reported recent travel to Mozambique. Compared to performing individual testing on thousands of samples, PCR pooling reduced labor and consumable costs by 95.5%. Seropositivity was associated with age ≥20 years (11·7% vs 1·9%, P<0.001), recent travel to Mozambique (OR 4.4 [95% CI 1.0-19.0]) and residence in southeast Swaziland (RR 3.78, P<0.001). Conclusions: The prevalence of malaria infection and recent exposure in Swaziland are extremely low, suggesting elimination is feasible. Future efforts should address imported malaria and target remaining foci of transmission. Pooled PCR and ELISA are valuable surveillance tools for guiding elimination efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere29550
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 6 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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