Malaria control program in the Arabian Peninsula, backed by adequate logistical support, has interrupted transmission with exception of limited sites in Saudi Arabia and sporadic outbreaks in Oman. However, sustained influx of imported malaria represents a direct threat to the above success. Here we examined the extent of genetic diversity among imported P. vivax in Qatar, and its ability to produce gametocytes, compared to parasites in main sites of imported cases, the Indian subcontinent (india) and East Africa (Sudan and Ethiopia). High diversity was seen among imported P. vivax in Qatar, comparable to parasites in the Indian subcontinent and East Africa. Limited genetic differentiation was seen among imported P. vivax, which overlapped with parasites in India, but differentiated from that in Sudan and Ethiopia. Parasite density among imported cases, ranged widely between 26.25-7985934.1 Pv18S rRNA copies/μl blood, with a high prevalence of infections carried gametocytes detectable by qRT-PCR. Parasitaemia was a stronger predictor for P. vivax gametocytes density (r = 0.211, P = 0.04). The extensive diversity of imported P. vivax and its ability to produce gametocytes represent a major threat for re-introduction of malaria in Qatar. The genetic relatedness between P. vivax reported in Qatar and those in India suggest that elimination strategy should target flow and dispersal of imported malaria into the region.
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