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Malaria and Apes...

January 22, 2010 - 17:20 -- Christophe Boete

A couple of months ago, the large number of human malaria infections due to P. knowlesi in various countries of South-East Asia has challenged our ideas on malaria with this fifth human malaria species having an animal reservoir...

More recently a paper published in PNAS has revealed the presence of P. falciparum in gorillas...

How could such transfers of pathogens be taken into account as the malaria eradication is now back on the global health agenda?


Mark Benedict's picture
Submitted by Mark Benedict on

Christophe raises a good question. Elimination will require continuous progress reducing the rate of increase of malaria. If parasites rarely cross species boundaries but result in self-limiting epidemics , the consequences are small. They would be approached like any other outbreak in an elimination zone with diagnosis and case management. Eradication is another matter altogether: any hidden reservoir of parasites will be troublesome.

(This is one area in which vector "species sanitation" (such an old but appropriate term) would have a considerable advantage over preventing and treating disease only in humans. Gorillas simply will not sleep under bednets!)