Zoonotic Transmission and Host Switches of Malaria Parasites

Announcing a new article publication for Zoonoses journal. Xin-zhuan Su and Jian Wu from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA review zoonotic transmission and host switches of malaria parasites.

Malaria is a deadly disease that affects the health of hundreds of millions of people annually. Five Plasmodium parasite species naturally infect humans: Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale, and Plasmodium knowlesi. These parasites can also infect various nonhuman primates. Parasites mainly infecting monkeys, such as Plasmodium cynomolgi and P. knowlesi, the latter of which was considered to be a monkey parasite for years, can also be transmitted to human hosts. Recently, many new Plasmodium species have been discovered in African apes, some of which may be transmitted to humans in the future.

In this article the authors review selected articles on the zoonotic transmission and evolution of selected malaria parasite species summarizing current advances in the relevant topics, emphasizing the transmission of malaria parasites between humans and non-human primates. The transmission of some avian malaria parasites between wild birds and domestic fowls are also briefly discussed.

Zoonotic malaria transmission is widespread, thus posing a threat to public health. More studies on parasite species, including their identification in non-human primates, transmission, and evolution, are needed to decrease or prevent the transmission of malaria parasites from non-human primates to humans.

Article reference: Xin-zhuan Su and Jian Wu. Zoonotic Transmission and Host Switches of Malaria Parasites. Zoonoses. Vol. 1(1). https://doi.org/10.15212/ZOONOSES-2021-0015

Keywords: Plasmodium, non-human primate, outbreak, simian, ape, avian

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