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BackgroundHigh levels of genetic diversity are common characteristics of Plasmodium falciparum parasite populations in high malaria transmission regions. There has been a decline in malaria transmission intensity over 12 years of surveillance in the community in Kilifi, Kenya. This study sought to investigate whether there was a corresponding reduction in P. falciparum genetic diversity, using msp2 as a genetic marker.MethodsBlood samples were obtained from children (ResultsBased on cross-sectional surveys conducted in 2007-2018, there was a significant reduction in malaria prevalence (16.2-5.5%: P-value  0.95) was observed in both asymptomatic infections and febrile malaria over time. About 281 (68.5%) asymptomatic infections were polyclonal (> 2 variants per infection) compared to 46 (56%) polyclonal first-febrile infections. There was significant difference in complexity of infection (COI) between asymptomatic 2.3 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.2-2.5] and febrile infections 2.0 (95% CI 1.7-2.3) (P = 0.016). Majority of asymptomatic infections (44.2%) carried mixed alleles (i.e., both FC27 and IC/3D7), while FC27 alleles were more frequent (53.3%) among the first-febrile infections.ConclusionsPlasmodium falciparum infections in Kilifi are still highly diverse and polyclonal, despite the reduction in malaria transmission in the community.

Original publication




Journal article


Malaria journal

Publication Date





KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kilifi, Kenya.


Humans, Plasmodium falciparum, Malaria, Falciparum, Fever, Protozoan Proteins, Antigens, Protozoan, Cross-Sectional Studies, Genotype, Child, Kenya, Genetic Variation, Asymptomatic Infections