Using Serological Markers for the Surveillance of Plasmodium vivax Malaria: A Scoping Review

Published: May 31, 2023


Kartal L, Mueller I, Longley RJ. Using Serological Markers for the Surveillance of Plasmodium vivax Malaria: A Scoping Review. Pathogens. 2023 May 31;12(6):791. doi: 10.3390/pathogens12060791. PMID: 37375481; PMCID: PMC10302697.


The utilisation of serological surveillance methods for malaria has the potential to identify individuals exposed to Plasmodium vivax, including asymptomatic carriers. However, the application of serosurveillance varies globally, including variations in methodology and transmission context. No systematic review exists describing the advantages and disadvantages of utilising serosurveillance in various settings. Collation and comparison of these results is a necessary first step to standardise and validate the use of serology for the surveillance of P. vivax in specific transmission contexts. A scoping review was performed of P. vivax serosurveillance applications globally. Ninety-four studies were found that met predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria. These studies were examined to determine the advantages and disadvantages of serosurveillance experienced in each study. If studies reported seroprevalence results, this information was also captured. Measurement of antibodies serves as a proxy by which individuals exposed to P. vivax may be indirectly identified, including those with asymptomatic infections, which may be missed by other technologies. Other thematic advantages identified included the ease and simplicity of serological assays compared to both microscopy and molecular diagnostics. Seroprevalence rates varied widely from 0-93%. Methodologies must be validated across various transmission contexts to ensure the applicability and comparability of results. Other thematic disadvantages identified included challenges with species cross-reactivity and determining changes in transmission patterns in both the short- and long-term. Serosurveillance requires further refinement to be fully realised as an actionable tool. Some work has begun in this area, but more is required.

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