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An epidemiologic study of hyperendemic malaria in Arso PIR, a village in northeastern Irian Jaya (Indonesian New Guinea), revealed evidence suggesting suppression of gametocytemia independent of immune control of the asexual parasitemia. A total of 240 people, representing ages between 2 and 60 years, were followed by biweekly blood film examination for 16 weeks beginning in November 1987. Two distinct subpopulations were represented--1) life-long residents of Irian Jaya, and 2) transmigrants from Java who arrived in Irian Jaya 20 months before the surveillance effort began. Twenty-five percent of blood films from natives and 31% from Javanese were positive for falciparum malaria; of these, the rate of gametocytemia was 21% for natives, and 42% for the Javanese transmigrants (P less than 0.001). This difference could not be explained by differences in the frequency or grade of parasitemia, illness, or by known patterns of antimalarial consumption. Similarly, in Wor, a village near Arso PIR, the gametocyte rate for P. falciparum diminished from 83% to 25% in transmigrants from Java between their eleventh and twenty-fifth month of residence in Irian Jaya, a period during which the falciparum malaria rate remained stable between 30% and 50%. An immunofluorescent antibody test using whole, acetone-fixed gametocytes as substrate revealed correlation between antibody titer and protection from gametocytemia among the semi-immune natives of Arso PIR, but not among the Javanese. Specific immune suppression of gametocytes, independent of immune control of asexual parasites, can explain all of these observations.


Journal article


Am J Trop Med Hyg

Publication Date





183 - 190


Adolescent, Adult, Animals, Antibodies, Protozoan, Child, Child, Preschool, Drug Combinations, Ethnic Groups, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Humans, Immunoglobulin G, Indonesia, Infant, Malaria, Middle Aged, Plasmodium falciparum, Pyrimethamine, Sulfadoxine