Vietnam achieved outstanding success against malaria in the last few decades. The mortality and morbidity of malaria in Vietnam have decreased remarkably in recent years, but malaria is still a major public health concern in the country, particularly in the Central Highlands region. In this study, molecular analyses of malaria parasites in the Central Highlands were performed to understand the population structure and genetic diversity of the parasites circulating in the region. Plasmodium falciparum (68.7%) and P. vivax (27.4%) along with mixed infections with P. falciparum/P. vivax (3.9%) were detected in 230 blood samples from patients with malaria. Allele-specific nested-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) analyses of pfmsp-1, pfama-1, pvcsp, and pvmsp-1 revealed complex genetic makeup in P. falciparum and P. vivax populations of Vietnam. Substantial multiplicity of infection (MOI) was also identified, suggesting significant genetic diversity and polymorphism of P. falciparum and P. vivax populations in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. These results provide fundamental insight into the current patterns of dispersion and genetic nature of malaria parasites as well as for the development of malaria elimination strategies in the endemic region.
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