Malaria transmission and morbidity.
Marsh K., Snow RW.
Stable malaria endemicity is maintained over a wide range of transmission intensities in sub-Saharan Africa. This paper considers variations in the clinical manifestations and their consequences with differences in transmission intensity. Epidemiological approaches to malarial disease have concentrated on two clinical syndromes, severe malarial anaemia and cerebral malaria. Within an area the mean age of children with severe malarial anaemia is always lower than that of those with cerebral malaria. In areas of higher malaria transmission children, on average, encounter malaria at a younger age and the mean age of clinical cases is lower. Malarial anaemia tends therefore to be relatively more important under high transmission settings and cerebral malaria tends to gain in importance under lower transmission settings. In a number of studies the total load of malaria morbidity, whether measured as none severe malaria in the community or as severe malaria admitted to hospital, is low under stable low transmission conditions but is at its highest under moderate intensities of transmission. Thereafter it reaches a plateau, or even falls, at the highest transmission intensities. It is not known whether the same is true for mortality in communities living under different transmission settings. Possible implications for changes in patterns of morbidity and mortality following interventions which lower malaria transmission are discussed. It is concluded that such interventions should play an important role in integrated malaria control programmes but that these should involve concomitant introduction of other interventions, in order to minimise the possible risks of a reduced effect as the immune response of the population re-equilibrates in the face of reduced challenge.