Cross sectional studies on malaria prevalence was performed in 2001, 2002, and 2004 in Vila Candelária, an urban riverside area of Porto Velho, Rondônia, in the Brazilian Western Amazon, followed by longitudinal surveys on malaria incidence. Vila Candelária is a working class district, provided with electricity, water supply, and basic sanitation. Previous preliminary surveys indicated high malaria incidence in this community. At the end of year 2000 regular diagnostic and treatment measures for malaria were introduced, with active search of febrile cases among residents. Despite of both rapid treatment of cases and relative good sanitary and housing conditions, the malaria incidence persisted at high levels during the following years with an annual parasite index of 150 to 300/1000 inhabitants. Parasite surveys in 2001, 2002, and 2004 achieved through microscopy and polymerase chain reaction to diagnose malaria showed a constant high prevalence of asymptomatic carriers for both Plasmodium falciparum
and P. vivax
parasites. It was concluded that asymptomatic carriers represent an important reservoirs of parasites and that the carriers might contribute to maintaining the high level of transmission. Comparing our findings to similar geo-demographic situations found in other important urban communities of the Brazilian Amazon, we propose that asymptomatic carriers could explain malaria's outbreaks like the one recently observed in Manaus.