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The clinical and parasitological characteristics of the first naturally acquired malarial infection have rarely been documented in humans. When 243 migrants from non-endemic Java were followed from the day of their arrival in Indonesian Papua, 217 (89%) were found to become infected with Plasmodium falciparum and/or P. vivax before they were lost to follow-up. The incidence of malarial infection in the children investigated (who were aged 6-10 years) was indistinguishable from that in the adults (aged >20 years), with 1.10 and 1.14 P. falciparum infections/person-year (relative risk=0.97; 95% confidence interval=0.72-1.29) and 1.47 and 1.49 P. vivax infections/person-year (relative risk=0.99; 95% confidence interval=0.72-1.29), respectively. During their first infections, the children had higher P. falciparum parasitaemias than the adults (with geometric means of 1318 and 759 parasites/microl, respectively; P=0.04) but similar P. vivax parasitaemias (with geometric means of 355 and 331 parasites/microl, respectively; P=0.76). At first infection, 56% of the subjects were febrile and 90% complained of symptoms. There were no differences between children and adults with respect to these two parameters, either for P. falciparum or P. vivax. These findings indicate that, with promptly diagnosed and treated uncomplicated malaria, migrant children and adults in north-eastern Indonesian Papua have an equal risk of malarial infection and of disease following their first infections with P. falciparum and P. vivax.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann Trop Med Parasitol

Publication Date





565 - 574


Adult, Animals, Child, Confidence Intervals, Female, Fever, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Indonesia, Malaria, Falciparum, Malaria, Vivax, Male, Papua New Guinea, Probability, Risk, Transients and Migrants