The evolution of malaria in Brazil, its morbidity, the malaria control programs, and the new challenges for these programs in the light of the emergence of asymptomatic infection in the Amazon region of Brazil were reviewed.
At least six Brazilian research groups have demonstrated that asymptomatic infection by Plasmodium
is an important impediment to malaria control, among mineral prospectors in Mato Grosso and riverside communities in Rondônia and, in our group, in the middle and upper reaches of the Negro river, in the state of Amazonas. Likewise, other researchers have studied the problem among indigenous communities in the Colombian, Peruvian, and Venezuelan parts of the Amazon basin, adjacent to Brazil.
The frequency of positive results from the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) among asymptomatic individuals has ranged from 20.4 to 49.5%, and the presence of Plasmodium
in the thick blood smears, from 4.2 to 38.5%. Infection with Anopheles darlingi has also been demonstrated by xenodiagnosis among asymptomatic patients with positive PCR results.
If a mean of 25% is taken for the asymptomatic infection caused by Plasmodium
sp. in the Amazon region of Brazil, malaria control will be difficult to achieve in that region with the measures currently utilized for such control.