Open Access Short report

Absence of dry season Plasmodium parasitaemia, but high rates of reported acute respiratory infection and diarrhoea in preschool-aged children in Kaédi, southern Mauritania

Sunkaru Touray12, Hampâté Bâ3, Ousmane Bâ3, Mohamedou Koïta3, Cheikh B Ould Ahmed Salem3, Moussa Keïta3, Doulo Traoré3, Ibrahima Sy3, Mirko S Winkler12, Jürg Utzinger12 and Guéladio Cissé12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, P.O. Box,, CH-4002, Basel, Switzerland

2 University of Basel, P.O. Box,, CH-4003, Basel, Switzerland

3 Institut National de Recherche en Santé Publique, BP 695, Nouakchott, Mauritania

For all author emails, please log on.

Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:193  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-193

Published: 7 September 2012

Abstract

Background

The epidemiology of malaria in the Senegal River Gorgol valley, southern Mauritania, requires particular attention in the face of ongoing and predicted environmental and climate changes. While “malaria cases” are reported in health facilities throughout the year, past and current climatic and ecological conditions do not favour transmission in the dry season (lack of rainfall and very high temperatures). Moreover, entomological investigations in neighbouring regions point to an absence of malaria transmission in mosquito vectors in the dry season. Because the clinical signs of malaria are non-specific and overlap with those of other diseases (e.g. acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea), new research is needed to better understand malaria transmission patterns in this region to improve adaptive, preventive and curative measures.

Methods

We conducted a multipurpose cross-sectional survey in the city of Kaédi in April 2011 (dry season), assessing three major disease patterns, including malaria. Plasmodium spp. parasite rates were tested among children aged 6–59 months who were recruited from a random selection of households using a rapid diagnostic test and microscopic examination of Giemsa-stained thick and thin blood films. Acute respiratory infection and diarrhoea were the two other diseases investigated, administering a parental questionnaire to determine the reported prevalence among participating children.

Findings

No Plasmodium infection was found in any of the 371 surveyed preschool-aged children using two different diagnostic methods. Acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea were reported in 43.4% and 35.0% of the participants, respectively. About two thirds of the children with acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea required medical follow-up by a health worker.

Conclusions

Malaria was absent in the present dry season survey in the capital of the Gorgol valley of Mauritania, while acute respiratory infections and diarrhea were highly prevalent. Surveys should be repeated towards the end of rainy season, which will enhance our understanding of the potential changes in malaria transmission in a region known as ‘hot spot’ of predicted climate change.

Keywords:
Malaria; Acute respiratory infection; Diarrhoea; Cross-sectional survey; Dry season; Mauritania