Document Type

Article

Department

Community Health Sciences; Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Abstract

Background: Malarial infection is a major cause of concern, both worldwide and in Pakistan. Gametocytes are the sexual forms of the parasite that are essential for transmission. They fuse inside the mosquito to develop sporozoites. Gametocytes of the plasmodium parasites, which cause the infection, differentiate into male and female gametocytes. These gametocytes constitute the sexual stage of the malaria parasite and are essential in transmission of the disease from human to vector Anopheles. Gametocytes are affected by factors such as host immunity, drug treatment, reticulocytemia, anemia, low levels of asexual parasitemia and stress to the parasite. The aim of this study was to observe the hematological parameters, age and gametocyte carriage in an area of seasonal malaria transmission.
Methods: The study was conducted at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) Laboratory over the period of one year and 294 patients with uncomplicated malaria were recruited. Patients infected with Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) or Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) malaria and no co-morbidities were included in the study.
Results: Gametocytemia was highest during the period of July to November, with P. vivax, 267 (90.8%), predominating compared to P. falciparum, 27 (9.2%). P. vivax gametocytes were observed from May to October and P. falciparum gametocytes were observed from July to December. Low hemoglobin in females and low platelet levels were observed. The mean platelet count was significantly lower in cases of P. vivax having gametocytes compared to P. falciparum with gametocytes. Higher parasitic index was associated with lower platelet count. The most significantly altered parameters were hemoglobin, hematocrit, white blood cell (WBC), and platelet count. Hemoglobin and platelets were significantly lower during the malaria season in study participants, both male and female.
Conclusion: In conclusion, infection with P. falciparum and P. vivax modulates significant changes in hematological parameters in populations living in malaria endemic regions. In the malaria season males were more frequently affected by malaria with thrombocytopenia. Gametocyte carriage remains unaffected by seasonal changes thus ensuring parasite transmission during the dry season.

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Cureus

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