Dr Daniel M. Parker

Research Area: Global Health
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Web Links:

My background is in anthropological demography and in my work I draw heavily from population ecology and medical geography.  Most of my recent work has focused on border malaria in Southeast Asia, micro-epidemiology and demography. 

My current main substantive research interest concerns human settlements and the movements of humans between them.  Settlements can include farmsteads, houses, hamlets, and cities, and the ease and frequency of movements between these settlements vary by region and season. 

These connections between settlements are important with regard to infectious diseases and global health for several reasons and in my work this topic can be broadly split into two main subthemes, one relating to the spread of infectious diseases and the other relating to access of health care.  The two subthemes are closely related. 

Human movement and migration patterns can influence the dispersal of infectious diseases in many important ways. Infectious humans can transport pathogens from one location to another, for example; migrants may acquire an infection in their destination and later bring it back to their home community or vice versa. Dispersal of pathogens may frustrate elimination efforts through the re-importation of diseases that would otherwise be eliminated. Furthermore, such dispersal can alter the population genetics of pathogens, for example potentially spreading drug and multi-drug resistant pathogens into new regions.

Access to healthcare is also heavily influenced by human movement patterns and the connections between settlements.  In many parts of the world access to healthcare is severely limited, specifically for populations most in need of such care.  Not surprisingly, infectious diseases easily persist in regions where it is difficult to be quickly diagnosed and treated.  Poor health conditions in women and children persist in regions without easy access (both socially and geographically) to quality reproductive health care.  One solution to these problems is to limit the distance that individuals must travel in order to receive the health care that they need.  When appropriate care is offered within or very near to the settlement in question, most people will seek early diagnoses and treatment upon the emergence of symptoms and most pregnant women will attend antenatal clinics. 

Finally, when infected and infectious people are unable to easily receive diagnosis and treatment they are likely to contribute to the ongoing transmission of the disease with which they are afflicted. Conversely, when diagnosis and treatment are easily achieved, transmission can be drastically reduced, in at least some cases to the point of elimination.   

Name Department Institution Country
Professor François H Nosten Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Mae Sot Thailand
Professor Richard J Maude Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Professor Lisa J White Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Professor Rose McGready Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Mae Sot Thailand
Parker DM, Landier J, von Seidlein L, Dondorp A, White L, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Maude RJ, Nosten FH. 2016. Limitations of malaria reactive case detection in an area of low and unstable transmission on the Myanmar-Thailand border. Malar. J., 15 (1), pp. 571. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Reactive case detection is an approach that has been proposed as a tool for malaria elimination in low-transmission settings. It is an intuitively justified approach based on the concept of space-time clustering of malaria cases. When an index malaria clinical case is detected, it triggers reactive screening and treatment in the index house and neighbouring houses. However, the efficacy of this approach at varying screening radii and malaria prevalence remains ill defined. METHODS: Data were obtained from a detailed demographic and geographic surveillance study in four villages on the Myanmar-Thailand border. Clinical cases were recorded at village malaria clinics and were linked back to patients' residencies. These data were used to simulate the efficacy of reactive case detection for clinical cases using rapid diagnostic tests (RDT). Simulations took clinical cases in a given month and tabulated the number of cases that would have been detected in the following month at varying screening radii around the index houses. Simulations were run independently for both falciparum and vivax malaria. Each simulation of a reactive case detection effort was run in comparison with a strategy using random selection of houses for screening. RESULTS: In approximately half of the screenings for falciparum and 10% for vivax it would have been impossible to detect any malaria cases regardless of the screening strategy because the screening would have occurred during times when there were no cases. When geographically linked cases were present in the simulation, reactive case detection would have only been successful at detecting most malaria cases using larger screening radii (150-m radius and above). At this screening radius and above, reactive case detection does not perform better than random screening of an equal number of houses in the village. Screening within very small radii detects only a very small proportion of cases, but despite this low performance is better than random screening with the same sample size. CONCLUSIONS: The results of these simulations indicate that reactive case detection for clinical cases using RDTs has limited ability in halting transmission in regions of low and unstable transmission. This is linked to high spatial heterogeneity of cases, acquisition of malaria infections outside the village, as well missing asymptomatic infections. When cases are few and sporadic, reactive case detection would result in major time and budgetary losses.

Landier J, Parker DM, Thu AM, Carrara VI, Lwin KM, Bonnington CA, Pukrittayakamee S, Delmas G, Nosten FH. 2016. The role of early detection and treatment in malaria elimination. Malar. J., 15 pp. 363. | Show Abstract

Falciparum malaria persists in hard-to-reach areas or demographic groups that are missed by conventional healthcare systems but could be reached by trained community members in a malaria post (MP). The main focus of a MP is to provide uninterrupted and rapid access to rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) too all inhabitants of a village. RDTs allow trained community members to perform malaria diagnosis accurately and prescribe appropriate treatment, reducing as much as possible any delay between the onset of fever and treatment. Early treatment with ACT and with a low-dose of primaquine prevents further transmission from human to mosquito. A functioning MP represents an essential component of any malaria elimination strategy. Implementing large-scale, high-coverage, community-based early diagnosis and treatment through MPs requires few technological innovations but relies on a very well structured organization able to train, supervise and supply MPs, to monitor activity and to perform strict malaria surveillance.

Kaji A, Parker DM, Chu CS, Thayatkawin W, Suelaor J, Charatrueangrongkun R, Salathibuppha K, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2016. Immunization Coverage in Migrant School Children Along the Thailand-Myanmar Border. J Immigr Minor Health, 18 (5), pp. 1038-45. | Show Abstract

The objective of this project was to document and increase vaccine coverage in migrant school children on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Migrant school children (n = 12,277) were enrolled in a school-based immunization program in four Thai border districts. The children were evaluated for vaccination completion and timing, for six different vaccines: Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG); Oral Polio vaccine (OPV); Hepatitis B vaccine (HepB); Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus vaccine (DTP); Measles Containing Vaccine or Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR); Tetanus and Diphtheria containing vaccine (Td). Vaccine coverage proportions for BCG, OPV3, DTP3, HepB3 and measles containing vaccine were 92.3, 85.3, 63.8, 72.2, and 90.9 % respectively. Most children were able to receive vaccines in a time appropriate manner. School-based immunization programs offer a suitable vaccine delivery mechanism for hard-to-reach populations. However, these data suggest overall low vaccine coverage in migrant populations. Further efforts toward improving appropriate vaccine coverage and methods of retaining documentation of vaccination in mobile migrant populations are necessary for improved health.

Parker DM, Carrara VI, Pukrittayakamee S, McGready R, Nosten FH. 2015. Malaria ecology along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Malar. J., 14 pp. 388. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Malaria in Southeast Asia frequently clusters along international borders. For example, while most of Thailand is malaria free, the border region shared with Myanmar continues to have endemic malaria. This spatial pattern is the result of complex interactions between landscape, humans, mosquito vectors, and malaria parasites. An understanding of these complex ecological and socio-cultural interactions is important for designing and implementing malaria elimination efforts in the region. This article offers an ecological perspective on the malaria situation along the Thailand-Myanmar border. DISCUSSION: This border region is long (2000 km), mountainous, and the environment ranges from thick forests to growing urban settlements and wet-rice fields. It is also a biologically diverse region. All five species of malaria known to naturally infect humans are present. At least three mosquito vector species complexes, with widely varying behavioural characteristics, exist in the area. The region is also a hub for ethnic diversity, being home to over ten different ethnolinguistic groups, several of which have been engaged in conflict with the Myanmar government now for over half a century. Given the biological and ethnic diversity, as well as the complex socio-political context, malaria control and elimination in the region is challenging. CONCLUSION: Despite these complexities, multipronged approaches including collaborations with multiple local organizations, quick access to diagnosis and treatment, prevention of mosquito bites, radical cure of parasites, and mass drug administration appear to be drastically decreasing Plasmodium falciparum infections. Such approaches remain crucial as the region moves toward elimination of P. falciparum and potentially Plasmodium vivax.

Parker DM, Matthews SA, Yan G, Zhou G, Lee MC, Sirichaisinthop J, Kiattibutr K, Fan Q, Li P, Sattabongkot J, Cui L. 2015. Microgeography and molecular epidemiology of malaria at the Thailand-Myanmar border in the malaria pre-elimination phase. Malar. J., 14 pp. 198. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Endemic malaria in Thailand continues to only exist along international borders. This pattern is frequently attributed to importation of malaria from surrounding nations. A microgeographical approach was used to investigate malaria cases in a study village along the Thailand-Myanmar border. METHODS: Three mass blood surveys were conducted during the study period (July and December 2011, and May 2012) and were matched to a cohort-based demographic surveillance system. Blood slides and filter papers were taken from each participant. Slides were cross-verified by an expert microscopist and filter papers were analysed using nested PCR. Cases were then mapped to households and analysed using spatial statistics. A risk factor analysis was done using mixed effects logistic regression. RESULTS: In total, 55 Plasmodium vivax and 20 Plasmodium falciparum cases (out of 547 participants) were detected through PCR, compared to six and two (respectively) cases detected by field microscopy. The single largest risk factor for infection was citizenship. Many study participants were ethnic Karen people with no citizenship in either Thailand or Myanmar. This subpopulation had over eight times the odds of malaria infection when compared to Thai citizens. Cases also appeared to cluster near a major drainage system and year-round water source within the study village. CONCLUSION: This research indicates that many cases of malaria remain undiagnosed in the region. The spatial and demographic clustering of cases in a sub-group of the population indicates either transmission within the Thai village or shared exposure to malaria vectors outside of the village. While it is possible that malaria is imported to Thailand from Myanmar, the existence of undetected infections, coupled with an ecological setting that is conducive to malaria transmission, means that indigenous transmission could also occur on the Thai side of the border. Improved, timely, and active case detection is warranted.

Tomita S, Parker DM, Jennings JA, Wood J. 2015. Household demography and early childhood mortality in a rice-farming village in Northern Laos. PLoS ONE, 10 (3), pp. e0119191. | Show Abstract

This paper extends Alexandr Chayanov's model of changing household demography (specifically the ratio of food consumers to food producers) and its influence on agricultural behavior so that it includes possible adverse effects of a rising ratio on nutritional status and early childhood mortality within the household. We apply the model to 35 years' worth of longitudinal demographic and economic data collected in the irrigated-rice growing village of Na Savang in northern Laos. When appropriate controls are included for other household variables, unobserved inter-household heterogeneity, and changes in local conditions and national policy over the study period, the analysis suggests that a unit increase in the household's consumer/producer ratio induces something like a nine-fold increase in the risk of death among household members aged less than five years. Monte Carlo simulation studies suggest that this may be an over-estimate but also that the effect is probably real and likely to be an important factor in household demography. At the very least, the results suggest that Chayanov's model still has theoretical relevance and deserves to be revived.

Bancone G, Chu CS, Somsakchaicharoen R, Chowwiwat N, Parker DM, Charunwatthana P, White NJ, Nosten FH. 2014. Characterization of G6PD genotypes and phenotypes on the northwestern Thailand-Myanmar border. PLoS ONE, 9 (12), pp. e116063. | Show Abstract

Mutations in the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) gene result in red blood cells with increased susceptibility to oxidative damage. Significant haemolysis can be caused by primaquine and other 8-aminoquinoline antimalarials used for the radical treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria. The distribution and phenotypes of mutations causing G6PD deficiency in the male population of migrants and refugees in a malaria endemic region on the Thailand-Myanmar border were characterized. Blood samples for G6PD fluorescent spot test (FST), G6PD genotyping, and malaria testing were taken from 504 unrelated males of Karen and Burman ethnicities presenting to the outpatient clinics. The overall frequency of G6PD deficiency by the FST was 13.7%. Among the deficient subjects, almost 90% had the Mahidol variant (487G>A) genotype. The remaining subjects had Chinese-4 (392G>T), Viangchan (871G>A), Açores (595A>G), Seattle (844G>C) and Mediterranean (563C>T) variants. Quantification of G6PD activity was performed using a modification of the standard spectrophotometric assay on a subset of 24 samples with Mahidol, Viangchan, Seattle and Chinese-4 mutations; all samples showed a residual enzymatic activity below 10% of normal and were diagnosed correctly by the FST. Further studies are needed to characterise the haemolytic risk of using 8-aminoquinolines in patients with these genotypes.

Yuan L, Wang Y, Parker DM, Gupta B, Yang Z, Liu H, Fan Q, Cao Y, Xiao Y, Lee MC et al. 2015. Therapeutic responses of Plasmodium vivax malaria to chloroquine and primaquine treatment in northeastern Myanmar. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother., 59 (2), pp. 1230-5. | Show Abstract

Chloroquine-primaquine (CQ-PQ) continues to be the frontline therapy for radical cure of Plasmodium vivax malaria. Emergence of CQ-resistant (CQR) P. vivax parasites requires a shift to artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), which imposes a significant financial, logistical, and safety burden. Monitoring the therapeutic efficacy of CQ is thus important. Here, we evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of CQ-PQ for P. vivax malaria in northeast Myanmar. We recruited 587 patients with P. vivax monoinfection attending local malaria clinics during 2012 to 2013. These patients received three daily doses of CQ at a total dose of 24 mg of base/kg of body weight and an 8-day PQ treatment (0.375 mg/kg/day) commencing at the same time as the first CQ dose. Of the 401 patients who finished the 28-day follow-up, the cumulative incidence of recurrent parasitemia was 5.20% (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.04% to 7.36%). Among 361 (61%) patients finishing a 42-day follow-up, the cumulative incidence of recurrent blood-stage infection reached 7.98% (95% CI, 5.20% to 10.76%). The cumulative risk of gametocyte carriage at days 28 and 42 was 2.21% (95% CI, 0.78% to 3.64%) and 3.93% (95% CI, 1.94% to 5.92%), respectively. Interestingly, for all 15 patients with recurrent gametocytemia, this was associated with concurrent asexual stages. Genotyping of recurrent parasites at the merozoite surface protein 3α gene locus from 12 patients with recurrent parasitemia within 28 days revealed that 10 of these were the same genotype as at day 0, suggesting recrudescence or relapse. Similar studies in 70 patients in the same area in 2007 showed no recurrent parasitemias within 28 days. The sensitivity to chloroquine of P. vivax in northeastern Myanmar may be deteriorating.

Li N, Parker DM, Yang Z, Fan Q, Zhou G, Ai G, Duan J, Lee MC, Yan G, Matthews SA et al. 2013. Risk factors associated with slide positivity among febrile patients in a conflict zone of north-eastern Myanmar along the China-Myanmar border. Malar. J., 12 pp. 361. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Malaria within the Greater Mekong sub-region is extremely heterogeneous. While China and Thailand have been relatively successful in controlling malaria, Myanmar continues to see high prevalence. Coupled with the recent emergence of artemisinin-resistant malaria along the Thai-Myanmar border, this makes Myanmar an important focus of malaria within the overall region. However, accurate epidemiological data from Myanmar have been lacking, in part because of ongoing and emerging conflicts between the government and various ethnic groups. Here the results are reported from a risk analysis of malaria slide positivity in a conflict zone along the China-Myanmar border. METHODS: Surveys were conducted in 13 clinics and hospitals around Laiza City, Myanmar between April 2011 and October 2012. Demographic, occupational and educational information, as well as malaria infection history, were collected. Logistic models were used to assess risk factors for slide positivity. RESULTS: Age patterns in Plasmodium vivax infections were younger than those with Plasmodium falciparum. Furthermore, males were more likely than females to have falciparum infections. Patients who reported having been infected with malaria during the previous year were much more likely to have a current vivax infection. During the second year of the study, falciparum infections among soldiers increased signficiantly. CONCLUSIONS: These results fill some knowledge gaps with regard to risk factors associated with malaria slide positivity in this conflict region of north-eastern Myanmar. Since epidemiological studies in this region have been rare or non-existent, studies such as the current are crucial for understanding the dynamic nature of malaria in this extremely heterogeneous epidemiological landscape.

Parker D, Lerdprom R, Srisatjarak W, Yan G, Sattabongkot J, Wood J, Sirichaisinthop J, Cui L. 2012. Longitudinal in vitro surveillance of Plasmodium falciparum sensitivity to common anti-malarials in Thailand between 1994 and 2010. Malar. J., 11 pp. 290. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Drug and multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria has existed in Thailand for several decades. Furthermore, Thailand serves as a sentinel for drug-resistant malaria within the Greater Mekong sub-region. However, the drug resistance situation is highly dynamic, changing quickly over time. Here parasite in vitro drug sensitivity is reported for artemisinin derivatives, mefloquine, chloroquine and quinine, across Thailand. METHODS: Blood was drawn from patients infected with P. falciparum in seven sentinel provinces along Thai international borders with Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Malaysia. In vitro parasite sensitivity was tested using the World Health Organization's microtest (mark III) (between 1994 and 2002) and the histidine-rich protein-2 (HRP2)-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (in 2010). Following World Health Organization protocol, at least 30 isolates were collected for each province and year represented in this study. Where possible, t-tests were used to test for significant differences. RESULTS: There appears to be little variation across study sites with regard to parasite sensitivity to chloroquine. Quinine resistance appears to have been rising prior to 1997, but has subsequently decreased. Mefloquine sensitivity appears high across the provinces, especially along the north-western border with Myanmar and the eastern border with Cambodia. Finally, the data suggest that parasite sensitivity to artemisinin and its derivatives is significantly higher in provinces along the north-western border with Myanmar. CONCLUSIONS: Parasite sensitivity to anti-malarials in Thailand is highly variable over time and largely mirrors official drug use policy. The findings with regard to reduced sensitivity to artemisinin derivatives are supported by recent reports of reduced parasite clearance associated with artemisinin. This trend is alarming since artemisinin is considered the last defence against malaria. Continued surveillance in Thailand, along with increased collaboration and surveillance across the entire Greater Mekong sub-region, is clearly warranted.

Parker D, Holman D. 2012. Event history analysis of dengue fever epidemic and inter-epidemic spells in Barbados, Brazil, and Thailand. Int. J. Infect. Dis., 16 (11), pp. e793-8. | Show Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This study investigated meteorological and demographic factors affecting the length of dengue fever epidemics and the length of time between epidemics in Barbados, Brazil, and Thailand. METHODS: Region-specific meteorological and demographic data were collected for 104 sites from public sources. Fixed effects piecewise logistic event history analysis was used to quantify the effects of time-varying covariates on the duration of inter-epidemic spells and for the duration of epidemics. RESULTS: Mean monthly temperature was the most important factor affecting the duration of both inter-epidemic spells (β=0.543; confidence interval (CI) 0.4954, 0.5906) and epidemic spells (β=-0.648; CI -0.7553, -0.5405). Drought conditions increased the time between epidemics. Increased temperature hastened the onset of an epidemic, and during an epidemic, higher mean temperature increased the duration of the epidemic. CONCLUSIONS: By using a duration analysis, this study offers a novel approach for investigating the dynamics of dengue fever epidemiology. Furthermore, these results offer new insights into prior findings of a correlation between temperature and the geographic range and vector efficiency of dengue fever.

Wang Z, Parker D, Meng H, Wu L, Li J, Zhao Z, Zhang R, Miao M, Fan Q, Wang H et al. 2012. In vitro sensitivity of Plasmodium falciparum from China-Myanmar border area to major ACT drugs and polymorphisms in potential target genes. PLoS ONE, 7 (5), pp. e30927. | Show Abstract

Drug resistance has always been one of the most important impediments to global malaria control. Artemisinin resistance has recently been confirmed in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and efforts for surveillance and containment are intensified. To determine potential mechanisms of artemisinin resistance and monitor the emergence and spread of resistance in other regions of the GMS, we investigated the in vitro sensitivity of 51 culture-adapted parasite isolates from the China-Myanmar border area to four drugs. The 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC₅₀s) of dihydroartemisinin, mefloquine and lumefantrine were clustered in a relatively narrow, 3- to 6-fold range, whereas the IC₅₀ range of artesunate was 12-fold. We assessed the polymorphisms of candidate resistance genes pfcrt, pfmdr1, pfATP6, pfmdr6 and pfMT (a putative metabolite/drug transporter). The K76T mutation in pfcrt reached fixation in the study parasite population, whereas point mutations in pfmdr1 and pfATP6 had low levels of prevalence. In addition, pfmdr1 gene amplification was not detected. None of the mutations in pfmdr1 and pfATP6 was associated significantly with in vitro sensitivity to artemisinin derivatives. The ABC transporter gene pfmdr6 harbored two point mutations, two indels, and number variations in three simple repeats. Only the length variation in a microsatellite repeat appeared associated with altered sensitivity to dihydroartemisinin. The PfMT gene had two point mutations and one codon deletion; the I30N and N496- both reached high levels of prevalence. However, none of the SNPs or haplotypes in PfMT were correlated significantly with resistance to the four tested drugs. Compared with other parasite populations from the GMS, our studies revealed drastically different genotype and drug sensitivity profiles in parasites from the China-Myanmar border area, where artemisinins have been deployed extensively for over 30 years.

Parker DM, Zavortink TJ, Billo TJ, Valdez U, Edwards JS. 2012. Mosquitoes and other arthropod macro fauna associated with tank bromeliads in a Peruvian cloud forest. J. Am. Mosq. Control Assoc., 28 (1), pp. 45-6. | Show Abstract

Mosquitoes and other macro arthropods were collected in September 2008 from bucket bromeliads in the vicinity of the Wayqecha Cloud Forest Research Center in southeastern Peru, an area for which there are no published data. Range extensions of culicid species are reported.

Cui L, Yan G, Sattabongkot J, Cao Y, Chen B, Chen X, Fan Q, Fang Q, Jongwutiwes S, Parker D et al. 2012. Malaria in the Greater Mekong Subregion: heterogeneity and complexity. Acta Trop., 121 (3), pp. 227-39. | Show Abstract

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), comprised of six countries including Cambodia, China's Yunnan Province, Lao PDR, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Vietnam, is one of the most threatening foci of malaria. Since the initiation of the WHO's Mekong Malaria Program a decade ago, malaria situation in the GMS has greatly improved, reflected in the continuous decline in annual malaria incidence and deaths. However, as many nations are moving towards malaria elimination, the GMS nations still face great challenges. Malaria epidemiology in this region exhibits enormous geographical heterogeneity with Myanmar and Cambodia remaining high-burden countries. Within each country, malaria distribution is also patchy, exemplified by 'border malaria' and 'forest malaria' with high transmission occurring along international borders and in forests or forest fringes, respectively. 'Border malaria' is extremely difficult to monitor, and frequent malaria introductions by migratory human populations constitute a major threat to neighboring, malaria-eliminating countries. Therefore, coordination between neighboring countries is essential for malaria elimination from the entire region. In addition to these operational difficulties, malaria control in the GMS also encounters several technological challenges. Contemporary malaria control measures rely heavily on effective chemotherapy and insecticide control of vector mosquitoes. However, the spread of multidrug resistance and potential emergence of artemisinin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum make resistance management a high priority in the GMS. This situation is further worsened by the circulation of counterfeit and substandard artemisinin-related drugs. In most endemic areas of the GMS, P. falciparum and Plasmodium vivax coexist, and in recent malaria control history, P. vivax has demonstrated remarkable resilience to control measures. Deployment of the only registered drug (primaquine) for the radical cure of vivax malaria is severely undermined due to high prevalence of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency in target human populations. In the GMS, the dramatically different ecologies, diverse vector systems, and insecticide resistance render traditional mosquito control less efficient. Here we attempt to review the changing malaria epidemiology in the GMS, analyze the vector systems and patterns of malaria transmission, and identify the major challenges the malaria control community faces on its way to malaria elimination.

Parker DM, Landier J, von Seidlein L, Dondorp A, White L, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Maude RJ, Nosten FH. 2016. Limitations of malaria reactive case detection in an area of low and unstable transmission on the Myanmar-Thailand border. Malar. J., 15 (1), pp. 571. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Reactive case detection is an approach that has been proposed as a tool for malaria elimination in low-transmission settings. It is an intuitively justified approach based on the concept of space-time clustering of malaria cases. When an index malaria clinical case is detected, it triggers reactive screening and treatment in the index house and neighbouring houses. However, the efficacy of this approach at varying screening radii and malaria prevalence remains ill defined. METHODS: Data were obtained from a detailed demographic and geographic surveillance study in four villages on the Myanmar-Thailand border. Clinical cases were recorded at village malaria clinics and were linked back to patients' residencies. These data were used to simulate the efficacy of reactive case detection for clinical cases using rapid diagnostic tests (RDT). Simulations took clinical cases in a given month and tabulated the number of cases that would have been detected in the following month at varying screening radii around the index houses. Simulations were run independently for both falciparum and vivax malaria. Each simulation of a reactive case detection effort was run in comparison with a strategy using random selection of houses for screening. RESULTS: In approximately half of the screenings for falciparum and 10% for vivax it would have been impossible to detect any malaria cases regardless of the screening strategy because the screening would have occurred during times when there were no cases. When geographically linked cases were present in the simulation, reactive case detection would have only been successful at detecting most malaria cases using larger screening radii (150-m radius and above). At this screening radius and above, reactive case detection does not perform better than random screening of an equal number of houses in the village. Screening within very small radii detects only a very small proportion of cases, but despite this low performance is better than random screening with the same sample size. CONCLUSIONS: The results of these simulations indicate that reactive case detection for clinical cases using RDTs has limited ability in halting transmission in regions of low and unstable transmission. This is linked to high spatial heterogeneity of cases, acquisition of malaria infections outside the village, as well missing asymptomatic infections. When cases are few and sporadic, reactive case detection would result in major time and budgetary losses.

Landier J, Parker DM, Thu AM, Carrara VI, Lwin KM, Bonnington CA, Pukrittayakamee S, Delmas G, Nosten FH. 2016. The role of early detection and treatment in malaria elimination. Malar. J., 15 pp. 363. | Show Abstract

Falciparum malaria persists in hard-to-reach areas or demographic groups that are missed by conventional healthcare systems but could be reached by trained community members in a malaria post (MP). The main focus of a MP is to provide uninterrupted and rapid access to rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) too all inhabitants of a village. RDTs allow trained community members to perform malaria diagnosis accurately and prescribe appropriate treatment, reducing as much as possible any delay between the onset of fever and treatment. Early treatment with ACT and with a low-dose of primaquine prevents further transmission from human to mosquito. A functioning MP represents an essential component of any malaria elimination strategy. Implementing large-scale, high-coverage, community-based early diagnosis and treatment through MPs requires few technological innovations but relies on a very well structured organization able to train, supervise and supply MPs, to monitor activity and to perform strict malaria surveillance.

Kaji A, Parker DM, Chu CS, Thayatkawin W, Suelaor J, Charatrueangrongkun R, Salathibuppha K, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2016. Immunization Coverage in Migrant School Children Along the Thailand-Myanmar Border. J Immigr Minor Health, 18 (5), pp. 1038-45. | Show Abstract

The objective of this project was to document and increase vaccine coverage in migrant school children on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Migrant school children (n = 12,277) were enrolled in a school-based immunization program in four Thai border districts. The children were evaluated for vaccination completion and timing, for six different vaccines: Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG); Oral Polio vaccine (OPV); Hepatitis B vaccine (HepB); Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus vaccine (DTP); Measles Containing Vaccine or Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR); Tetanus and Diphtheria containing vaccine (Td). Vaccine coverage proportions for BCG, OPV3, DTP3, HepB3 and measles containing vaccine were 92.3, 85.3, 63.8, 72.2, and 90.9 % respectively. Most children were able to receive vaccines in a time appropriate manner. School-based immunization programs offer a suitable vaccine delivery mechanism for hard-to-reach populations. However, these data suggest overall low vaccine coverage in migrant populations. Further efforts toward improving appropriate vaccine coverage and methods of retaining documentation of vaccination in mobile migrant populations are necessary for improved health.

Parker DM, Carrara VI, Pukrittayakamee S, McGready R, Nosten FH. 2015. Malaria ecology along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Malar. J., 14 pp. 388. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Malaria in Southeast Asia frequently clusters along international borders. For example, while most of Thailand is malaria free, the border region shared with Myanmar continues to have endemic malaria. This spatial pattern is the result of complex interactions between landscape, humans, mosquito vectors, and malaria parasites. An understanding of these complex ecological and socio-cultural interactions is important for designing and implementing malaria elimination efforts in the region. This article offers an ecological perspective on the malaria situation along the Thailand-Myanmar border. DISCUSSION: This border region is long (2000 km), mountainous, and the environment ranges from thick forests to growing urban settlements and wet-rice fields. It is also a biologically diverse region. All five species of malaria known to naturally infect humans are present. At least three mosquito vector species complexes, with widely varying behavioural characteristics, exist in the area. The region is also a hub for ethnic diversity, being home to over ten different ethnolinguistic groups, several of which have been engaged in conflict with the Myanmar government now for over half a century. Given the biological and ethnic diversity, as well as the complex socio-political context, malaria control and elimination in the region is challenging. CONCLUSION: Despite these complexities, multipronged approaches including collaborations with multiple local organizations, quick access to diagnosis and treatment, prevention of mosquito bites, radical cure of parasites, and mass drug administration appear to be drastically decreasing Plasmodium falciparum infections. Such approaches remain crucial as the region moves toward elimination of P. falciparum and potentially Plasmodium vivax.

Parker DM, Matthews SA, Yan G, Zhou G, Lee MC, Sirichaisinthop J, Kiattibutr K, Fan Q, Li P, Sattabongkot J, Cui L. 2015. Microgeography and molecular epidemiology of malaria at the Thailand-Myanmar border in the malaria pre-elimination phase. Malar. J., 14 pp. 198. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Endemic malaria in Thailand continues to only exist along international borders. This pattern is frequently attributed to importation of malaria from surrounding nations. A microgeographical approach was used to investigate malaria cases in a study village along the Thailand-Myanmar border. METHODS: Three mass blood surveys were conducted during the study period (July and December 2011, and May 2012) and were matched to a cohort-based demographic surveillance system. Blood slides and filter papers were taken from each participant. Slides were cross-verified by an expert microscopist and filter papers were analysed using nested PCR. Cases were then mapped to households and analysed using spatial statistics. A risk factor analysis was done using mixed effects logistic regression. RESULTS: In total, 55 Plasmodium vivax and 20 Plasmodium falciparum cases (out of 547 participants) were detected through PCR, compared to six and two (respectively) cases detected by field microscopy. The single largest risk factor for infection was citizenship. Many study participants were ethnic Karen people with no citizenship in either Thailand or Myanmar. This subpopulation had over eight times the odds of malaria infection when compared to Thai citizens. Cases also appeared to cluster near a major drainage system and year-round water source within the study village. CONCLUSION: This research indicates that many cases of malaria remain undiagnosed in the region. The spatial and demographic clustering of cases in a sub-group of the population indicates either transmission within the Thai village or shared exposure to malaria vectors outside of the village. While it is possible that malaria is imported to Thailand from Myanmar, the existence of undetected infections, coupled with an ecological setting that is conducive to malaria transmission, means that indigenous transmission could also occur on the Thai side of the border. Improved, timely, and active case detection is warranted.

Tomita S, Parker DM, Jennings JA, Wood J. 2015. Household demography and early childhood mortality in a rice-farming village in Northern Laos. PLoS ONE, 10 (3), pp. e0119191. | Show Abstract

This paper extends Alexandr Chayanov's model of changing household demography (specifically the ratio of food consumers to food producers) and its influence on agricultural behavior so that it includes possible adverse effects of a rising ratio on nutritional status and early childhood mortality within the household. We apply the model to 35 years' worth of longitudinal demographic and economic data collected in the irrigated-rice growing village of Na Savang in northern Laos. When appropriate controls are included for other household variables, unobserved inter-household heterogeneity, and changes in local conditions and national policy over the study period, the analysis suggests that a unit increase in the household's consumer/producer ratio induces something like a nine-fold increase in the risk of death among household members aged less than five years. Monte Carlo simulation studies suggest that this may be an over-estimate but also that the effect is probably real and likely to be an important factor in household demography. At the very least, the results suggest that Chayanov's model still has theoretical relevance and deserves to be revived.

Bancone G, Chu CS, Somsakchaicharoen R, Chowwiwat N, Parker DM, Charunwatthana P, White NJ, Nosten FH. 2014. Characterization of G6PD genotypes and phenotypes on the northwestern Thailand-Myanmar border. PLoS ONE, 9 (12), pp. e116063. | Show Abstract

Mutations in the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) gene result in red blood cells with increased susceptibility to oxidative damage. Significant haemolysis can be caused by primaquine and other 8-aminoquinoline antimalarials used for the radical treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria. The distribution and phenotypes of mutations causing G6PD deficiency in the male population of migrants and refugees in a malaria endemic region on the Thailand-Myanmar border were characterized. Blood samples for G6PD fluorescent spot test (FST), G6PD genotyping, and malaria testing were taken from 504 unrelated males of Karen and Burman ethnicities presenting to the outpatient clinics. The overall frequency of G6PD deficiency by the FST was 13.7%. Among the deficient subjects, almost 90% had the Mahidol variant (487G>A) genotype. The remaining subjects had Chinese-4 (392G>T), Viangchan (871G>A), Açores (595A>G), Seattle (844G>C) and Mediterranean (563C>T) variants. Quantification of G6PD activity was performed using a modification of the standard spectrophotometric assay on a subset of 24 samples with Mahidol, Viangchan, Seattle and Chinese-4 mutations; all samples showed a residual enzymatic activity below 10% of normal and were diagnosed correctly by the FST. Further studies are needed to characterise the haemolytic risk of using 8-aminoquinolines in patients with these genotypes.

Yuan L, Wang Y, Parker DM, Gupta B, Yang Z, Liu H, Fan Q, Cao Y, Xiao Y, Lee MC et al. 2015. Therapeutic responses of Plasmodium vivax malaria to chloroquine and primaquine treatment in northeastern Myanmar. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother., 59 (2), pp. 1230-5. | Show Abstract

Chloroquine-primaquine (CQ-PQ) continues to be the frontline therapy for radical cure of Plasmodium vivax malaria. Emergence of CQ-resistant (CQR) P. vivax parasites requires a shift to artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), which imposes a significant financial, logistical, and safety burden. Monitoring the therapeutic efficacy of CQ is thus important. Here, we evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of CQ-PQ for P. vivax malaria in northeast Myanmar. We recruited 587 patients with P. vivax monoinfection attending local malaria clinics during 2012 to 2013. These patients received three daily doses of CQ at a total dose of 24 mg of base/kg of body weight and an 8-day PQ treatment (0.375 mg/kg/day) commencing at the same time as the first CQ dose. Of the 401 patients who finished the 28-day follow-up, the cumulative incidence of recurrent parasitemia was 5.20% (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.04% to 7.36%). Among 361 (61%) patients finishing a 42-day follow-up, the cumulative incidence of recurrent blood-stage infection reached 7.98% (95% CI, 5.20% to 10.76%). The cumulative risk of gametocyte carriage at days 28 and 42 was 2.21% (95% CI, 0.78% to 3.64%) and 3.93% (95% CI, 1.94% to 5.92%), respectively. Interestingly, for all 15 patients with recurrent gametocytemia, this was associated with concurrent asexual stages. Genotyping of recurrent parasites at the merozoite surface protein 3α gene locus from 12 patients with recurrent parasitemia within 28 days revealed that 10 of these were the same genotype as at day 0, suggesting recrudescence or relapse. Similar studies in 70 patients in the same area in 2007 showed no recurrent parasitemias within 28 days. The sensitivity to chloroquine of P. vivax in northeastern Myanmar may be deteriorating.

Li N, Parker DM, Yang Z, Fan Q, Zhou G, Ai G, Duan J, Lee MC, Yan G, Matthews SA et al. 2013. Risk factors associated with slide positivity among febrile patients in a conflict zone of north-eastern Myanmar along the China-Myanmar border. Malar. J., 12 pp. 361. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Malaria within the Greater Mekong sub-region is extremely heterogeneous. While China and Thailand have been relatively successful in controlling malaria, Myanmar continues to see high prevalence. Coupled with the recent emergence of artemisinin-resistant malaria along the Thai-Myanmar border, this makes Myanmar an important focus of malaria within the overall region. However, accurate epidemiological data from Myanmar have been lacking, in part because of ongoing and emerging conflicts between the government and various ethnic groups. Here the results are reported from a risk analysis of malaria slide positivity in a conflict zone along the China-Myanmar border. METHODS: Surveys were conducted in 13 clinics and hospitals around Laiza City, Myanmar between April 2011 and October 2012. Demographic, occupational and educational information, as well as malaria infection history, were collected. Logistic models were used to assess risk factors for slide positivity. RESULTS: Age patterns in Plasmodium vivax infections were younger than those with Plasmodium falciparum. Furthermore, males were more likely than females to have falciparum infections. Patients who reported having been infected with malaria during the previous year were much more likely to have a current vivax infection. During the second year of the study, falciparum infections among soldiers increased signficiantly. CONCLUSIONS: These results fill some knowledge gaps with regard to risk factors associated with malaria slide positivity in this conflict region of north-eastern Myanmar. Since epidemiological studies in this region have been rare or non-existent, studies such as the current are crucial for understanding the dynamic nature of malaria in this extremely heterogeneous epidemiological landscape.

Parker D, Lerdprom R, Srisatjarak W, Yan G, Sattabongkot J, Wood J, Sirichaisinthop J, Cui L. 2012. Longitudinal in vitro surveillance of Plasmodium falciparum sensitivity to common anti-malarials in Thailand between 1994 and 2010. Malar. J., 11 pp. 290. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Drug and multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria has existed in Thailand for several decades. Furthermore, Thailand serves as a sentinel for drug-resistant malaria within the Greater Mekong sub-region. However, the drug resistance situation is highly dynamic, changing quickly over time. Here parasite in vitro drug sensitivity is reported for artemisinin derivatives, mefloquine, chloroquine and quinine, across Thailand. METHODS: Blood was drawn from patients infected with P. falciparum in seven sentinel provinces along Thai international borders with Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Malaysia. In vitro parasite sensitivity was tested using the World Health Organization's microtest (mark III) (between 1994 and 2002) and the histidine-rich protein-2 (HRP2)-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (in 2010). Following World Health Organization protocol, at least 30 isolates were collected for each province and year represented in this study. Where possible, t-tests were used to test for significant differences. RESULTS: There appears to be little variation across study sites with regard to parasite sensitivity to chloroquine. Quinine resistance appears to have been rising prior to 1997, but has subsequently decreased. Mefloquine sensitivity appears high across the provinces, especially along the north-western border with Myanmar and the eastern border with Cambodia. Finally, the data suggest that parasite sensitivity to artemisinin and its derivatives is significantly higher in provinces along the north-western border with Myanmar. CONCLUSIONS: Parasite sensitivity to anti-malarials in Thailand is highly variable over time and largely mirrors official drug use policy. The findings with regard to reduced sensitivity to artemisinin derivatives are supported by recent reports of reduced parasite clearance associated with artemisinin. This trend is alarming since artemisinin is considered the last defence against malaria. Continued surveillance in Thailand, along with increased collaboration and surveillance across the entire Greater Mekong sub-region, is clearly warranted.

Parker D, Holman D. 2012. Event history analysis of dengue fever epidemic and inter-epidemic spells in Barbados, Brazil, and Thailand. Int. J. Infect. Dis., 16 (11), pp. e793-8. | Show Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This study investigated meteorological and demographic factors affecting the length of dengue fever epidemics and the length of time between epidemics in Barbados, Brazil, and Thailand. METHODS: Region-specific meteorological and demographic data were collected for 104 sites from public sources. Fixed effects piecewise logistic event history analysis was used to quantify the effects of time-varying covariates on the duration of inter-epidemic spells and for the duration of epidemics. RESULTS: Mean monthly temperature was the most important factor affecting the duration of both inter-epidemic spells (β=0.543; confidence interval (CI) 0.4954, 0.5906) and epidemic spells (β=-0.648; CI -0.7553, -0.5405). Drought conditions increased the time between epidemics. Increased temperature hastened the onset of an epidemic, and during an epidemic, higher mean temperature increased the duration of the epidemic. CONCLUSIONS: By using a duration analysis, this study offers a novel approach for investigating the dynamics of dengue fever epidemiology. Furthermore, these results offer new insights into prior findings of a correlation between temperature and the geographic range and vector efficiency of dengue fever.

Wang Z, Parker D, Meng H, Wu L, Li J, Zhao Z, Zhang R, Miao M, Fan Q, Wang H et al. 2012. In vitro sensitivity of Plasmodium falciparum from China-Myanmar border area to major ACT drugs and polymorphisms in potential target genes. PLoS ONE, 7 (5), pp. e30927. | Show Abstract

Drug resistance has always been one of the most important impediments to global malaria control. Artemisinin resistance has recently been confirmed in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and efforts for surveillance and containment are intensified. To determine potential mechanisms of artemisinin resistance and monitor the emergence and spread of resistance in other regions of the GMS, we investigated the in vitro sensitivity of 51 culture-adapted parasite isolates from the China-Myanmar border area to four drugs. The 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC₅₀s) of dihydroartemisinin, mefloquine and lumefantrine were clustered in a relatively narrow, 3- to 6-fold range, whereas the IC₅₀ range of artesunate was 12-fold. We assessed the polymorphisms of candidate resistance genes pfcrt, pfmdr1, pfATP6, pfmdr6 and pfMT (a putative metabolite/drug transporter). The K76T mutation in pfcrt reached fixation in the study parasite population, whereas point mutations in pfmdr1 and pfATP6 had low levels of prevalence. In addition, pfmdr1 gene amplification was not detected. None of the mutations in pfmdr1 and pfATP6 was associated significantly with in vitro sensitivity to artemisinin derivatives. The ABC transporter gene pfmdr6 harbored two point mutations, two indels, and number variations in three simple repeats. Only the length variation in a microsatellite repeat appeared associated with altered sensitivity to dihydroartemisinin. The PfMT gene had two point mutations and one codon deletion; the I30N and N496- both reached high levels of prevalence. However, none of the SNPs or haplotypes in PfMT were correlated significantly with resistance to the four tested drugs. Compared with other parasite populations from the GMS, our studies revealed drastically different genotype and drug sensitivity profiles in parasites from the China-Myanmar border area, where artemisinins have been deployed extensively for over 30 years.

2829