Microscopic Plasmodium falciparum Gametocytemia and Infectivity to Mosquitoes in Cambodia

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Although gametocytes are essential for malaria transmission, in Africa many falciparum-infected persons without smear-detectable gametocytes still infect mosquitoes. To see whether the same is true in Southeast Asia, we determined the infectiousness of 119 falciparum-infected Cambodian adults to Anopheles dirus mosquitoes by membrane feeding. Just 5.9% of subjects infected mosquitoes. The 8.4% of patients with smear-detectable gametocytes were >20 times more likely to infect mosquitoes than those without and were the source of 96% of all mosquito infections. In low-transmission settings, targeting transmission-blocking interventions to those with microscopic gametocytemia may have an outsized effect on malaria control and elimination.

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