In the south and southeast regions of Brazil, cases of malaria occur outside the endemic Amazon region near the Atlantic Forest in some coastal states, where Plasmodium vivax is the recognized parasite. Characteristics of cases and vectors, especially Anopheles (Kerteszia) cruzii, raise the hypothesis of a zoonosis with simians as reservoirs. The present review aims to report on investigations of the disease over a 23-year period. Two main sources have provided epidemiological data: the behavior of Anopheles vectors and the genetic and immunological aspects of Plasmodium spp. obtained from humans, Alouatta simians, and Anopheles spp. mosquitoes. Anopheles (K.) cruzii is the most captured species in the forest canopy and is the recognized vector. The similarity between P. vivax and Plasmodium simium and that between Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium brasilianum shared between simian and human hosts and the involvement of the same vector in the transmission to both hosts suggest interspecies transfer of the parasites. Finally, recent evidence points to the presence of Plasmodium falciparum in a silent cycle, detected only by molecular methods in asymptomatic individuals and An. (K.) cruzii. In the context of malaria elimination, it is paramount to assemble data about transmission in such non-endemic low-incidence areas.
- Molecular epidemiology
- Sequence analysis