Background: Malaria "hotspots" have been proposed as potential intervention units for targeted malaria elimination. Little is known about hotspot formation and stability in settings outside sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods: Clustering of Plasmodium infections at the household and hotspot level was assessed over 2 years in 3 villages in eastern Cambodia. Social and spatial autocorrelation statistics were calculated to assess clustering of malaria risk, and logistic regression was used to assess the effect of living in a malaria hotspot compared to living in a malaria-positive household in the first year of the study on risk of malaria infection in the second year.
Results: The crude prevalence of Plasmodium infection was 8.4% in 2016 and 3.6% in 2017. Living in a hotspot in 2016 did not predict Plasmodium risk at the individual or household level in 2017 overall, but living in a Plasmodium-positive household in 2016 strongly predicted living in a Plasmodium-positive household in 2017 (Risk Ratio, 5.00 [95% confidence interval, 2.09-11.96], P < .0001). There was no consistent evidence that malaria risk clustered in groups of socially connected individuals from different households.
Conclusions: Malaria risk clustered more clearly in households than in hotspots over 2 years. Household-based strategies should be prioritized in malaria elimination programs in this region.