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Background: Malaria is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa including Rwanda. Though the prevalence of malaria has been reduced due to the use of indoor residual sprayings and insecticide-treated bed nets, it is still a disease that kills many people annually. Many studies conducted revealed that in sub-Saharan Africa including Rwanda there is a high prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum. However, there is still a gap in the identification of the presence of mixed Plasmodium infection. This study was conducted to determine the overall prevalence of Plasmodium species as well as that of mixed plasmodium infection in Ruhango and Kibilizi Health centres.
Methods: Descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted on 126 participants in Ruhango, Bunyogombe and Kibilizi health centres located in the southern province of Rwanda. The conventional sampling strategy was used for the selection of individuals who consented to participate in the study. Blood samples were used to detect Plasmodium species and the obtained data were analyzed using Microsoft excel and IBM SPSS version 21.
Results: Among 126 participants presenting with signs and symptoms of malaria, the overall positive cases of Plasmodium species were 61(48.4%) and among the total positive cases 56 (44.5%) were infected with single Plasmodium species while 5 (4%) were infected with mixed Plasmodium species. Plasmodium falciparum was the most prevalent species infecting 49 (39%) participants while Plasmodium vivax was the least prevalent infection, detected in only 1(0.8%) participant.
Conclusion: The study identified the significant prevalence of mixed-species of Plasmodium infection as well as the high prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum infection in the study population. These findings suggest that there is a need for continued monitoring of non-falciparum infection in this population and the introduction of species-specific RDTs that can be used for diagnostic purposes.