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Genetic characterization of Plasmodium falciparum infections in north-western Thailand, a region of low transmission intensity (1 infection/person each year), has found a comparable number of parasite genotypes per infected person to regions with hyperendemic malaria. Clone multiplicity and parasite diversity were found to be homogeneous across 129 infected individuals comprising a range of age-groups (1.32 parasite genotypes; n = 98), patients (aged 2-16 years) with recrudescent infections (1.54; n = 13), and pregnant women (1.61; n = 18). Individuals belonging to groups with a high risk of infection, as deduced by clinical epidemiology, did not harbour a higher number of clones per infection, nor greater parasite diversity than low-risk groups. In fact, multiple genotype infections were as common in low-risk groups, suggesting that there is frequent transmission of polyclonal infections from a single inoculum, rather than superinfection. Such a polyclonal transmission system would enable generation of extensive parasite diversity by recombination, despite the low level of transmission. However, co-infection with P. vivax was associated with fewer P. falciparum genotypes per infection.

Original publication




Journal article


Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg

Publication Date





587 - 593


Adolescent, Adult, Animals, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Genetic Variation, Genotype, Humans, Malaria, Falciparum, Malaria, Vivax, Male, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Parasitic, Risk Factors, Thailand