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The burden and duration of asymptomatic malaria infections were measured in residents of the malaria endemic village of Gonoa, Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax and P. malariae infections in people aged 4 years to adulthood were compared. Frequent sampling at 3-day intervals for up to 61 days allowed assessment of individual episodes of infection. Statistical assessment of P. falciparum detection revealed a periodicity consistent with synchronous replication of this species over periods up to 27 days. The duration of P. falciparum episodes was longer across all age groups than that of P. vivax and P. malariae. A trend for decreasing duration with age was also noted in data from each species. This was most prominent in P. falciparum infections: median duration in 4-year-olds was > 48 days compared with a median between 9 and 15 days in older children and adults. The results are consistent with the slow acquisition of immunity to antigenically diverse Plasmodium populations and suggest a faster rate of acquisition to P. vivax and P. malariae than to P. falciparum.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date



121 ( Pt 3)


247 - 256


Wellcome Trust Centre for the Epidemiology of Infectious Disease, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.


Animals, Humans, Plasmodium, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium vivax, Parasitemia, Malaria, Malaria, Falciparum, Malaria, Vivax, Prevalence, Survival Analysis, Longitudinal Studies, Age Factors, Species Specificity, Periodicity, Adolescent, Adult, Middle Aged, Child, Child, Preschool, Papua New Guinea