The understanding of clinico-epidemiological phenomena of tertian malaria has been the subject of controversy. The authors suggest a system of postulates which give a non-contradictory explanation of the phenomena of relapses and long incubation. The main idea is that the duration of exoerythrocytic development of Plasmodium vivax is a polymorphic characteristic controlled by a set of genes. According to these postulates sporozoites may be subdivided into two groups designated as tachysporozoites and bradysporozoites, responsible for early and late manifestations, respectively. The logical analysis of the system suggests that it does not contradict the experimental facts. Moreover, the theory of polymorphic sporozoites permits an explanation and quantification of interrelations between different phenomena. The authors stress that the variation of genes is much greater in natural populations of parasites than in individual isolates and strains and therefore that the features of strains do not fully reflect the features of populations. Classical laboratory experiments should be combined with epidemiological experiments which allow a study of the population as a whole. The methodology of experiments to be undertaken in further investigations of the long latency period is discussed
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