Recent findings published in the Lancet Global Health journal revealed some worrisome information about a new form of malaria parasite present in Brazil.
Malaria is not completely eradicated from Brazil
The researchers decided to investigate after malaria outbreaks have been reported in the past years, despite the fact that it was thought that malaria has been eradicated from south-eastern and southern Brazil. Many cases of malaria were reported in 2015-2016, and the researchers focused on 49 of them for their study. Most cases were in the Rio de Janeiro state, around the Atlantic Forest.
The infections did not come from a human malaria parasite
Initially the researchers believed that the new cases were caused by one of the main global species, the Plasmodium vivax. However, as it turns out, it was Plasmodium simium, an animal parasite that can be found in monkeys. The parasite cannot be transmitted from human to human and people will have to pay attention to insect bites when they are visiting a forest in those areas.
“There is no evidence that zoonotic malaria can be transmitted from human to human via mosquitoes. In addition there is no current threat to people in the city of Rio de Janeiro, or in other non-forest areas of the Rio de Janeiro state, where transmission of the disease does not exist. However, its unique mode of transmission via monkeys and the fact that it occurs in areas of high forest coverage means that zoonotic malaria poses a unique problem for malaria control efforts and may complicate the drive towards eventual elimination of the disease. Although benign and treatable, visitors should follow measures to avoid insect bites when going into the forest.” one of the researchers said.