Introduction: In 2018, Bhutan reported 54 cases of malaria, of which six were indigenous, 14 introduced and 34 imported. Considering the continuous reduction in the number of indigenous cases, Bhutan plans to eliminate malaria by 2025 under the Bhutan Malaria Elimination Strategy. The study was conducted to assess the presence of asymptomatic plasmodial infection in both, Bhutanese population living in malaria-risk areas and in migrant workers to guide the elimination strategies.
Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted from April to May 2016 in 750 Bhutanese people and 473 migrant workers. Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections were investigated by using a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) and the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Result: Prevalence of asymptomatic plasmodial infection based on PCR was 0.27% (95% CI: 0.05–1.07%) among Bhutanese people with a mean age of 43 years old. The proportions of males and females were 45% and 55%, respectively. Among migrant workers, the prevalence of asymptomatic plasmodial infection was 0.42% (95% CI: 0.07– 1.69%) with a mean age of 30 years old. The majority of migrant workers were from the neighboring Indian State of West Bengal (57.51%), followed by Assam (12.26%). RDT in both study groups did not detect any plasmodial infection.
Conclusion: The presence of a low prevalence of asymptomatic plasmodial infection indicates that the current elimination strategies and interventions are effective. Malaria elimination_2019