The global malaria burden has decreased over the last decade and many nations are attempting elimination. Asymptomatic malaria infections are not normally diagnosed or treated, posing a major hurdle for elimination efforts. One solution to this problem is mass drug administration (MDA), with success depending on adequate population participation. Here, we present a detailed spatial and temporal analysis of malaria episodes and asymptomatic infections in four villages undergoing MDA in Myanmar. In this study, individuals from neighborhoods with low MDA adherence had 2.85 times the odds of having a malaria episode post-MDA in comparison to those from high adherence neighborhoods, regardless of individual participation, suggesting a herd effect. High mosquito biting rates, living in a house with someone else with malaria, or having an asymptomatic malaria infection were also predictors of clinical episodes. Spatial clustering of non-adherence to MDA, even in villages with high overall participation, may frustrate elimination efforts.
Department of Population Health and Disease Prevention, University of California, Irvine, United States.