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Now Animals can Also Spread Malaria, Researchers Confirm Zoonotic Transmission

Zoonotic transmission of malaria confirmed in recent cases in the Atlantic Forest region of southern Brazil. Molecular analysis of 28 human cases of malaria confirms presence of Plasmodium simium, a parasite usually only found in monkeys, and not P vivax (a human parasite) as previously diagnosed.

Malaria was eliminated from southern and southeastern Brazil over 50 years ago, but a number of cases each year in areas of the Atlantic Forest prompted researchers to investigate the possibility of zoonotic transmission – where human beings become infected, via a mosquito bite, with a malaria parasite that usually infects monkeys.

Now, analysis of DNA samples has confirmed that 28 such cases of malaria were caused by zoonotic transmission of Plasmodium simium, a parasite usually only found in monkeys, and not the human parasite Plasmodium vivax, as previously thought. The authors of the analysis say that screening of local monkeys and mosquitos will be required to evaluate the extent of the emerging zoonotic threat to public health, and to the potential of malaria elimination in Brazil. The study is published in The Lancet Global Health journal. Once prevalent in the whole country, malaria transmission in Brazil now occurs almost entirely (over 99% …

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