Thursday, 19 February 2015

Surveillance possibilities in tackling malaria eradication

SPHPM’s Dr Freya Fowkes and Dr Jack Richards and Professor James Beeson from the Department of Microbiology have co-authored a paper with researchers from The Burnet Institute and the University of Melbourne, discussing the need for further research in the area of malaria control and prevention.

The eradication and incidence minimisation of infectious diseases has not been successful without interventions that have aimed to maintain constant surveillance as well as control the infection. The reduction in rates of transmission of malaria has been a result of numerous vector control approaches alongside strong treatment strategies. However, this has shed light on the need for greater knowledge within the area of surveillance of malaria and future interventions that can pave the way for eradication of the disease.

The current surveillance methods have been focused on reporting of all incidences through different services and other expensive methods that are no longer wholly effective. Dr Fowkes and co-authors emphasise the opportunity to concentrate efforts in utilising serological biomarkers to develop sero-surveillance implements to effectively deal with malaria transmission. This is explained as antibodies to malaria antigens can be used as biomarkers to determine areas of transmission and identify any cases of re-emergence or conclude whether the infection has been eradicated. Furthermore, they can be used in various communities and assist in observing transmission patterns.

However, the current paucity of research in the field of malaria hinders the opportunity to further develop sero-surveillance tools. The lack of research in antigens and antibody reactions is an area that requires extensive examination alongside population factors (eg. age and comorbidities) to better understand antibody responses on a broader scale. The development of sero-surveillance tools could aid the existing efforts to eradicate malaria in populations.

Read the paper in full here.

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