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Article Dans Une Revue International Journal for Parasitology Année : 2016

The host specificity of ape malaria parasites can be broken in confined environments

Céline Arnathau
Eric Willaume
  • Fonction : Auteur
David Fouchet
Eric M. Leroy


Recent studies have revealed a large diversity of Plasmodium spp. among African great apes. Some of these species are related to Plasmodium falciparum, the most virulent agent of human malaria (subgenus Laverania), and others to Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium vivax (subgenus Plasmodium), three other human malaria agents. Laverania parasites exhibit strict host specificity in their natural environment. Plasmodium reichenowi, Plasmodium billcollinsi, Plasmodium billbrayi and Plasmodium gaboni infect only chimpanzees, while Plasmodium praefalciparum, Plasmodium blacklocki and Plasmodium adleri are restricted to gorillas and Plasmodium falciparum is pandemic in humans. This host specificity may be due to genetic and/or environmental factors. Infrastructures hosting captive primates, such as sanctuaries and health centres, usually concentrate different primate species, thus favouring pathogen exchanges. Using molecular tools, we analysed blood samples from captive non-human primates living in Gabon to evaluate the risk of Plasmodium spp. transfers between host species. We also included blood samples from workers taking care of primates to assess whether primate-human parasite transfers occurred. We detected four transfers of Plasmodium from gorillas towards chimpanzees, one from chimpanzees to gorillas, three from humans towards chimpanzees and one from humans to mandrills. No simian Plasmodium was found in the blood samples from humans working with primates. These findings demonstrate that the genetic barrier that determines the apparent host specificity of Laverania is not completely impermeable and that parasite exchanges between gorillas and chimpanzees are possible in confined environments.
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Dates et versions

hal-01957730 , version 1 (17-12-2018)



Barthélémy Ngoubangoye, Larson Boundenga, Céline Arnathau, Illich Manfred Mombo, Durand Patrick, et al.. The host specificity of ape malaria parasites can be broken in confined environments. International Journal for Parasitology, 2016, 46 (11), pp.737-744. ⟨10.1016/j.ijpara.2016.06.004⟩. ⟨hal-01957730⟩
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