Prevalence of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency in southeast Iran: implications for malaria elimination
Introduction: Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD) is an X-linked genetic disorder with a relatively high frequency in malaria-endemic regions. It is an obstacle to malaria elimination, as primaquine administered in the treatment of malaria can cause hemolysis in G6PD-deficient individuals. This study presents information on the prevalence of G6PD deficiency in Sistan and Balouchetsan province, which hosts more than 90% of Plasmodium vivax malaria cases in Iran. This type of information is needed for a successful malaria elimination program.
Methodology: A total of 526 students were randomly recruited through schools located in southeast Iran. Information was collected by interviewing the students using a structured questionnaire. Blood samples taken on filter papers were examined for G6PD deficiency using the fluorescent spot test.
Results: Overall, 72.8% (383/526) of the subjects showed normal G6PD enzyme function. Mild and severe G6PD deficiency was observed in 14.8% (78) and 12.2% (64) of subjects, respectively. A total 193/261 males (73.9%) and 190/265 (72%) females had normal enzyme activity. Mild G6PD deficiency was observed in 10.8% (28) and 18.9% (50) of male and female subjects, respectively. However, in comparison with females, a greater proportion of males showed severe enzyme deficiency (15.3% versus 9.1%). All these differences were statistically significant (p < 0.006).
Conclusions: G6PD deficiency is highly prevalent in southeast Iran. G6PD-deficient individuals are susceptible to potentially severe and life-threatening hemolytic reactions after primaquine treatment. In order to achieve malaria elimination goals in the province, G6PD testing needs to be made routinely available within the health system.
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