Abstract # 2317 Event # 23:

Scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2007 01:15 PM-01:30 PM: Session 5 (North Main Hall E) Oral Presentation

Malarial Monkeys: Resevoir for Zoonotic Infection?

L. Jones-Engel1, G. A. Engel1,2, M. A. Schillaci3, M. Pacheco4 and A. Escalante4
1Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, Box 357330, Seattle, WA 98115, USA, 2Swedish/Providence Family Medicine, Swedish Hospital, Seattle, Washington, 3Department of Social Sciences, University of Toronto at Scarborough, 4School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University
     Malaria is endemic in most of the tropical and subtropical ecosystems of the world, thriving in a variety of ecological and epidemiological contexts. Outside of Africa, Plasmodium vivax is the most prevalent cause of malaria, producing 70-80 million cases per year. Although not as lethal as P. falciparum, P. vivax is a pressing public health concern because it causes widespread morbidity. Phylogenetic studies have suggested that P. vivax originated from a host switch from a nonhuman primate to a human as part of a radiation event that included several Plasmodium species currently found in Southeast Asian macaques. Macaques are known to be reservoirs of seven species of malaria parasite, some of which (e.g. P. cynomolgi and P. knowlesi) are known to infect humans. The infection of humans by enzootic macaque plasmodium is facilitated by the ability of macaques to flourish in human-altered environments. In order to learn more about the role of macaques as reservoirs for human malaria we measured the prevalence of Plasmodium parasitemia among 31 pet macaques in Northern Sulawesi, Indonesia. PCR using species specific primers for the mitochondrial segment AMA-1 revealed infection with P. inui in 12 macaques. Four of 12 were also co-infected with P. knowlesi and one of those animals had a triple infection which included P.cynomolgi. These data indicate that pet macaques may harbor zoonotic Plasmodium species.