Open Access Commentary

Finding connections in the unexpected detection of Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum DNA in asymptomatic blood donors: a fact in the Atlantic Forest

Maria Anice Mureb Sallum1*, Cláudio Tadeu Daniel-Ribeiro2*, Gabriel Zorello Laporta1, Maria de Fátima Ferreira-da-Cruz2, Luciana Morganti Ferreira Maselli34, Débora Levy4 and Sérgio Paulo Bydlowski4*

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Epidemiologia, Faculdade de Saúde Pública, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo SP 01246-904, Brazil

2 Laboratório de Pesquisa em Malária, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 21045-900, Brazil

3 Fundação Pró-Sangue Hemocentro de São Paulo, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo SP 05403-000, Brazil

4 Laboratório de Genética e Hematologia Molecular (LIM31), Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo SP 05403-000, Brazil

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Malaria Journal 2014, 13:337  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-13-337

Published: 28 August 2014


A recent paper in Malaria Journal reported the observation of unexpected prevalence rates of healthy individuals carrying Plasmodium falciparum (5.14%) or Plasmodium vivax (2.26%) DNA among blood donors from the main transfusion centre in the metropolitan São Paulo, a non-endemic area for malaria. The article has been challenged by a group of authors who argued that the percentages reported were higher than those found in blood banks of the endemic Amazon Region and also that that paper had not considered the literature on the classical dynamics of malaria transmission in the Atlantic Forest, which involves Anopheles (Kerteszia) cruzii and bromeliad malaria, due to P. vivax and Plasmodium malariae parasites, but not P. falciparum. The present commentary paper responds to this challenge and brings evidence and literature data supporting that the observed prevalence ratios may indicate a proportion of individuals that are exposed to Plasmodium transmission in permissive environments; that blood carrying parasite DNA may not be necessarily infective if used in transfusion; and that in the literature, there are examples supporting the circulation of P. falciparum in the area.

Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium vivax; Subclinical infection; Blood donors; Atlantic Forest