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Increasing incidence of malaria in children despite insecticide-treated bed nets and prompt anti-malarial therapy in Tororo, Uganda

Prasanna Jagannathan1*, Mary K Muhindo2, Abel Kakuru2, Emmanuel Arinaitwe2, Bryan Greenhouse1, Jordan Tappero3, Philip J Rosenthal1, Frank Kaharuza4, Moses R Kamya5 and Grant Dorsey1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA

2 Infectious Diseases Research Collaboration, Kampala, Uganda

3 Global AIDS Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kampala, Uganda

5 Department of Medicine, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda

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Malaria Journal 2012, 11:435  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-435

Published: 28 December 2012



The burden of malaria has decreased in parts of Africa following the scaling up of control interventions. However, similar data are limited from high transmission settings.


A cohort of 100 children, aged six weeks to 10 months of age, were enrolled in an area of high malaria transmission intensity and followed through 48 months of age. Children were given a long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net (LLIN) at enrolment and received all care, including monthly blood smears and treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for uncomplicated malaria, at a dedicated clinic. The incidence of malaria was estimated by passive surveillance and associations between malaria incidence and age, calendar time and season were measured using generalized estimating equations.


Reported compliance with LLINs was 98% based on monthly routine evaluations. A total of 1,633 episodes of malaria were observed, with a median incidence of 5.3 per person-year (PPY). There were only six cases of complicated malaria, all single convulsions. Malaria incidence peaked at 6.5 PPY at 23 months of age before declining to 3.5 PPY at 48 months. After adjusting for age and season, the risk of malaria increased by 52% from 2008 to 2011 (RR 1.52, 95% CI 1.10-2.09). Asymptomatic parasitaemia was uncommon (monthly prevalence <10%) and rarely observed prior to 24 months of age.


In Tororo, despite provision of LLINs and prompt treatment with ACT, the incidence of malaria is very high and appears to be rising. Additional malaria control interventions in high transmission settings are likely needed.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials Identifier NCT00527800

Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Immunity; Epidemiology