Presence of additional Plasmodium vivax malaria in Duffy negative individuals from Southwestern Nigeria.

26 Jun 2020
Oboh MA, Singh US, Ndiaye D, Badiane AS, Ali NA, Bharti PK, Das A


Malaria in sub-Saharan Africa (sSA) is thought to be mostly caused by Plasmodium falciparum. Recently, growing reports of cases due to Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium vivax have been increasingly observed to play a role in malaria epidemiology in sSA. This in fact is due to the usage of very sensitive diagnostic tools (e.g. PCR), which have highlighted the underestimation of non-falciparum malaria in this sub-region. Plasmodium vivax was historically thought to be absent in sSA due to the high prevalence of the Duffy negativity in individuals residing in this sub-continent. Recent studies reporting detection of vivax malaria in Duffy-negative individuals from Mali, Mauritania, Cameroon challenge this notion.


Following previous report of P. vivax in Duffy-negative individuals in Nigeria, samples were further collected and assessed RDT and/or microscopy. Thereafter, malaria positive samples were subjected to conventional PCR method and DNA sequencing to confirm both single/mixed infections as well as the Duffy status of the individuals.


Amplification of Plasmodium gDNA was successful in 59.9% (145/242) of the evaluated isolates and as expected P. falciparum was the most predominant (91.7%) species identified. Interestingly, four P. vivax isolates were identified either as single (3) or mixed (one P. falciparum/P. vivax) infection. Sequencing results confirmed all vivax isolates as truly vivax malaria and the patient were of Duffy-negative genotype.


Identification of additional vivax isolates among Duffy-negative individuals from Nigeria, substantiate the expanding body of evidence on the ability of P. vivax to infect RBCs that do not express the DARC gene. Hence, such genetic-epidemiological study should be conducted at the country level in order to evaluate the true burden of P. vivax in Nigeria.