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Wild Chimpanzees and Human Malaria | CDC EID

EID Journal Home > Volume 16, Number 12–December 2010
Volume 16, Number 12–December 2010
Wild Chimpanzees Infected with 5 Plasmodium Species

Marco Kaiser, Anna Löwa, Markus Ulrich, Heinz Ellerbrok, Adeelia S. Goffe, Anja Blasse, Zinta Zommers, Emmanuel Couacy-Hymann, Fred Babweteera, Klaus Zuberbühler, Sonja Metzger, Sebastian Geidel, Christophe Boesch, Thomas R. Gillespie, and Fabian H. Leendertz Comments to Author
Author affiliations: Robert Koch-Institute, Berlin, Germany (M. Kaiser, A. Löwa, H. Ellerbrok, A.S. Goffe, A. Blasse, F.H. Leendertz); GenExpress GmbH, Berlin (M. Kaiser, M. Ulrich); University of Oxford, Tubney Abingdon, UK (A.S. Goffe, Z. Zommers); LANADA/LCPA, Bingerville, Côte d'Ivoire (E. Couacy-Hymann); Budongo Conservation Field Station, Masindi, Uganda (F. Babweteera, K. Zuberbühler); University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland, UK (K. Zuberbühler); Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany (S. Metzger, S. Geidel, C. Boesch, F.H. Leendertz); and Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (T.R. Gillespie)

Suggested citation for this article

Data are missing on the diversity of Plasmodium spp. infecting apes that live in their natural habitat, with limited possibility of human-mosquito-ape exchange. We surveyed Plasmodium spp. diversity in wild chimpanzees living in an undisturbed tropical rainforest habitat and found 5 species: P. malariae, P. vivax, P. ovale, P. reichenowi, and P. gaboni.

Despite ongoing and, in some regions, escalating morbidity and mortality rates associated with malaria-causing parasites, the evolutionary epidemiology of Plasmodium spp. is not well characterized. Classical studies of the blood pathogens of primates have found protozoa resembling human malaria parasites in chimpanzees and gorillas (1); however, these studies were limited to microscopy, negating conclusions regarding evolutionary relationships between human and ape parasites. Recent studies that used molecular approaches showed that captive and wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), as well as captive bonobos (Pan paniscus), harbor parasites broadly related to P. falciparum (2–5); wild and captive gorillas and captive bonobos and chimpanzees are sometimes infected with P. falciparum itself (4–6). Further, captive chimpanzees and bonobos have been shown to have malaria parasites related to human P. ovale and P. malariae (6–8); P. vivax has been identified in various monkeys and 1 semiwild chimpanzee (5,9). Recently, P. knowlesi, a simian malaria species, became the fifth human-infecting species (10), highlighting the possibility of transmission of new Plasmodium spp. from wild primates to humans.

Wild Chimpanzees and Human Malaria | CDC EID

Suggested Citation for this Article

Kaiser M, Löwa A, Ulrich M, Ellerbrok, Goffe AS, Blasse A, et al. Wild chimpanzees infected with 5 Plasmodium species. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2010 Dec [date cited].

DOI: 10.3201/eid1612.100424

Comments to the Authors

Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Fabian H. Leendertz, Robert Koch-Institute, Research Group Emerging Zoonoses, Nordufer 20, 13353, Berlin, Germany;

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