Molecular epidemiological investigation of Plasmodium knowlesi in humans and macaques in Singapore.
ABSTRACT: Singapore reported its first locally acquired human Plasmodium knowlesi infection in 2007, involving a soldier who had undergone training in a forested area where long-tailed macaques are frequently seen. Comprehensive disease surveillance and monitoring system that was set up after the initial case detected four additional human P. knowlesi cases in 2007 and one in 2008. All involved military personnel who had undergone training in the forested area, and none had traveled out of Singapore 1 month before the onset of symptoms. Screening for malaria parasites on blood obtained from long-tailed macaques revealed that wild monkeys (n=3) caught from the forested area were infected with P. knowlesi, whereas peri-domestic monkeys (n=10) caught from a nature reserve park were not infected with any malaria parasites. Phylogenetic analysis of the nonrepeat region of the P. knowlesi csp genes showed that the sequences obtained from the human cases were not distinct from those obtained from wild monkeys. Further, certain genotypes were shared between samples from humans and macaques. Our findings provide evidence that long-tailed macaques are the natural hosts of P. knowlesi in Singapore and the human cases acquired their infection in the same vicinity where these monkeys are found. Further, the risk of acquiring P. knowlesi infection among the general population of Singapore is small as evident from the absence of P. knowlesi in peri-domestic monkeys.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In Southeast Asia, Plasmodium knowlesi, a parasite of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), is an important cause of human malaria. Plasmodium cynomolgi also commonly infects these monkeys, but only one naturally acquired symptomatic human case has been reported previously. METHODS:Malariometric studies involving 5422 subjects (aged 6 months to 65 years) were conducted in 23 villages in Pailin and Battambang, western Cambodia. Parasite detection and genotyping was conducted on blood samples, using high-volume quantitative PCR (uPCR). RESULTS:Asymptomatic malaria parasite infections were detected in 1361 of 14732 samples (9.2%). Asymptomatic infections with nonhuman primate malaria parasites were found in 21 individuals living close to forested areas; P. cynomolgi was found in 11, P. knowlesi was found in 8, and P. vivax and P. cynomolgi were both found in 2. Only 2 subjects were female, and 14 were men aged 20-40 years. Geometric mean parasite densities were 3604 parasites/mL in P. cynomolgi infections and 52488 parasites/mL in P. knowlesi infections. All P. cynomolgi isolates had wild-type dihydrofolate reductase genes, in contrast to the very high prevalence of mutations in the human malaria parasites. Asymptomatic reappearance of P. cynomolgi occurred in 2 subjects 3 months after the first infection. CONCLUSIONS:Asymptomatic naturally acquired P. cynomolgi and P. knowlesi infections can both occur in humans. CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION:NCT01872702.
Project description:In recent years, the primate malaria Plasmodium knowlesi has emerged in human populations throughout South East Asia, with the largest hotspot being in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Control efforts are hindered by limited knowledge of where and when people get exposed to mosquito vectors. It is assumed that exposure occurs primarily when people are working in forest areas, but the role of other potential exposure routes (including domestic or peri-domestic transmission) has not been thoroughly investigated.We integrated entomological surveillance within a comprehensive case-control study occurring within a large hotspot of transmission in Sabah, Malaysia. Mosquitoes were collected at 28 pairs households composed of one where an occupant had a confirmed P. knowlesi infection within the preceding 3 weeks ("case") and an associated "control" where no infection was reported. Human landing catches were conducted to measure the number and diversity of mosquitoes host seeking inside houses and in the surrounding peri-domestic (outdoors but around the household) areas. The predominant malaria vector species was Anopheles balabacensis, most of which were caught outdoors in the early evening (6pm - 9pm). It was significantly more abundant in the peri-domestic area than inside houses (5.5-fold), and also higher at case than control households (0.28±0.194 vs 0.17±0.127, p<0.001). Ten out of 641 An. balabacensis tested were positive for simian malaria parasites, but none for P. knowlesi.This study shows there is a possibility that humans can be exposed to P. knowlesi infection around their homes. The vector is highly exophagic and few were caught indoors indicating interventions using bednets inside households may have relatively little impact.
Project description:Background:Long-tailed and pig-tailed macaque monkeys are natural hosts of Plasmodium knowlesi, which has been identified as a fifth malaria parasite infecting humans. In this study, we investigated possible infection by this Plasmodium parasite in macaque monkeys using a combination of polymerase chain reaction amplification and sequencing. Methods:Forty-five blood samples were obtained in 2010 from macaques in northern Myanmar near Yunnan Province of China and investigated for possible infection with Plasmodium species using a nested polymerase chain reaction method for amplification of 18S SSU rRNA genes. Results:Positive amplification was obtained from one monkey, and both sequence and phylogenetic analysis indicated that the parasite was of the Hepatocystis species lineage. Conclusion:The results suggest that a combination of polymerase chain reaction amplification and sequence identification would be necessary for detection of Plasmodium knowlesi infection in both humans and its natural hosts.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Non-human primates have long been identified to harbour different species of Plasmodium. Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), in particular, are reservoirs for P. knowlesi, P. inui, P. cynomolgi, P. coatneyi and P. fieldi. A previous study conducted in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, however revealed that long-tailed macaques could potentially harbour novel species of Plasmodium based on sequences of small subunit ribosomal RNA and circumsporozoite genes. To further validate this finding, the mitochondrial genome and the apicoplast caseinolytic protease M genes of Plasmodium spp. were sequenced from 43 long-tailed macaque blood samples. RESULTS:Apart from several named species of malaria parasites, long-tailed macaques were found to be potentially infected with novel species of Plasmodium, namely one we refer to as "P. inui-like." This group of parasites bifurcated into two monophyletic clades indicating the presence of two distinct sub-populations. Further analyses, which relied on the assumption of strict co-phylogeny between hosts and parasites, estimated a population expansion event of between 150,000 to 250,000 years before present of one of these sub-populations that preceded that of the expansion of P. knowlesi. Furthermore, both sub-populations were found to have diverged from a common ancestor of P. inui approximately 1.5 million years ago. In addition, the phylogenetic analyses also demonstrated that long-tailed macaques are new hosts for P. simiovale. CONCLUSIONS:Malaria infections of long-tailed macaques of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo are complex and include a novel species of Plasmodium that is phylogenetically distinct from P. inui. These macaques are new natural hosts of P. simiovale, a species previously described only in toque monkeys (Macaca sinica) in Sri Lanka. The results suggest that ecological factors could affect the evolution of malaria parasites.
Project description:UNLABELLED: BACKGROUND:Since a large focus of human infection with Plasmodium knowlesi, a simian malaria parasite naturally found in long-tailed and pig tailed macaques, was reported in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, it was pertinent to study the situation in peninsular Malaysia. A study was thus initiated to screen human cases of Plasmodium malariae using molecular techniques, to determine the presence of P. knowlesi in non- human primates and to elucidate its vectors. METHODS:Nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to identify all Plasmodium species present in the human blood samples sent to the Parasitology laboratory of Institute for Medical Research. At the same time, non-human primates were also screened for malaria parasites and nested PCR was carried out to determine the presence of P. knowlesi. Mosquitoes were collected from Pahang by human landing collection and monkey-baited-traps situated on three different levels. All mosquitoes were identified and salivary glands and midguts of anopheline mosquitoes were dissected to determine the presence of malaria parasites and nested PCR was carried out on positive glands. Sequencing of the csp genes were carried on P. knowlesi samples from humans, monkeys and mosquitoes, positive by PCR. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION:Plasmodium knowlesi was detected in 77 (69.37%) of the 111 human samples, 10 (6.90%) of the 145 monkey blood and in 2 (1.7%) Anopheles cracens. Sequence of the csp gene clustered with other P. knowlesi isolates. CONCLUSION:Human infection with Plasmodium knowlesi is occurring in most states of peninsular Malaysia. An. cracens is the main vector. Economic exploitation of the forest is perhaps bringing monkeys, mosquitoes and humans into increased contact. A single bite from a mosquito infected with P. knowlesi is sufficient to introduce the parasite to humans. Thus, this zoonotic transmission has to be considered in the future planning of malaria control.
Project description:Previously, Plasmodium knowlesi was not considered as a species of Plasmodium that could cause malaria in human beings, as it is parasite of long-tailed (Macaca fascicularis) and pig-tailed (Macaca nemestrina) macaques found in Southeast Asia. A case of infection by P. knowlesi is described in a Spanish traveller, who came back to Spain with daily fever after his last overseas travel, which was a six-month holiday in forested areas of Southeast Asia between 2008 and 2009. His P. knowlesi infection was detected by multiplex Real time quantitative PCR and confirmed by sequencing the amplified fragment. Using nested multiplex malaria PCR (reference method in Spain) and a rapid diagnostic test, the P. knowlesi infection was negative. This patient was discharged and asymptomatic when the positive result to P. knowlesi was reported. Prior to this case, there have been two more reports of European travellers with malaria caused by P. knowlesi, a Finnish man who travelled to Peninsular Malaysia during four weeks in March 2007, and a Swedish man who did a short visit to Malaysian Borneo in October 2006. Taken together with this report of P. knowlesi infection in a Spanish traveller returning from Southeast Asia, this is the third case of P. knowlesi infection in Europe, indicating that this simian parasite can infect visitors to endemic areas in Southeast Asia. This last European case is quite surprising, given that it is an untreated-symptomatic P. knowlesi in human, in contrast to what is currently known about P. knowlesi infection. Most previous reports of human P. knowlesi malaria infections were in adults, often with symptoms and relatively high parasite densities, up to the recent report in Ninh Thuan province, located in the southern part of central Vietnam, inhabited mainly by the Ra-glai ethnic minority, in which all P. knowlesi infections were asymptomatic, co-infected with P. malariae, with low parasite densities and two of the three identified cases were very young children under five years old.
Project description:Plasmodium knowlesi, a malaria parasite originally thought to be restricted to macaques in Southeast Asia, has recently been recognized as a significant cause of human malaria. Unlike the benign and morphologically similar P. malariae, these parasites can lead to fatal infections. Malaria parasites, including P. knowlesi, have not yet been detected in macaques of the Kapit Division of Malaysian Borneo, where the majority of human knowlesi malaria cases have been reported. In order to extend our understanding of the epidemiology and evolutionary history of P. knowlesi, we examined 108 wild macaques for malaria parasites and sequenced the circumsporozoite protein (csp) gene and mitochondrial (mt) DNA of P. knowlesi isolates derived from macaques and humans. We detected five species of Plasmodium (P. knowlesi, P. inui, P. cynomolgi, P. fieldi and P. coatneyi) in the long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques, and an extremely high prevalence of P. inui and P. knowlesi. Macaques had a higher number of P. knowlesi genotypes per infection than humans, and some diverse alleles of the P. knowlesi csp gene and certain mtDNA haplotypes were shared between both hosts. Analyses of DNA sequence data indicate that there are no mtDNA lineages associated exclusively with either host. Furthermore, our analyses of the mtDNA data reveal that P. knowlesi is derived from an ancestral parasite population that existed prior to human settlement in Southeast Asia, and underwent significant population expansion approximately 30,000-40,000 years ago. Our results indicate that human infections with P. knowlesi are not newly emergent in Southeast Asia and that knowlesi malaria is primarily a zoonosis with wild macaques as the reservoir hosts. However, ongoing ecological changes resulting from deforestation, with an associated increase in the human population, could enable this pathogenic species of Plasmodium to switch to humans as the preferred host.
Project description:Dengue and chikungunya are global re-emerging mosquito-borne diseases. In Singapore, sustained vector control coupled with household improvements reduced domestic mosquito populations for the past 45 years, particularly the primary vector Aedes aegypti. However, while disease incidence was low for the first 30 years following vector control implementation, outbreaks have re-emerged in the past 15 years. Epidemiological observations point to the importance of peridomestic infection in areas not targeted by control programs. We investigated the role of vectors in peri-domestic areas.We carried out entomological surveys to identify the Aedes species present in vegetated sites in highly populated areas and determine whether mosquitoes were present in open-air areas frequented by people. We compared vector competence of Aedes albopictus and Aedes malayensis with Ae. aegypti after oral infection with sympatric dengue serotype 2 and chikungunya viruses. Mosquito saliva was tested for the presence of infectious virus particles as a surrogate for transmission following oral infection.We identified Aedes albopictus and Aedes malayensis throughout Singapore and quantified their presence in forested and opened grassy areas. Both Ae. albopictus and Ae. malayensis can occupy sylvatic niches and were highly susceptible to both arboviruses. A majority of saliva of infected Ae. malayensis contained infectious particles for both viruses.Our study reveals the prevalence of competent vectors in peri-domestic areas, including Ae. malayensis for which we established the vector status. Epidemics can be driven by infection foci, which are epidemiologically enhanced in the context of low herd immunity, selective pressure on arbovirus transmission and the presence of infectious asymptomatic persons, all these conditions being present in Singapore. Learning from Singapore's vector control success that reduced domestic vector populations, but has not sustainably reduced arboviral incidence, we suggest including peri-domestic vectors in the scope of vector management.
Project description:Human malaria parasite species were originally acquired from other primate hosts and subsequently became endemic, then spread throughout large parts of the world. A major zoonosis is now occurring with Plasmodium knowlesi from macaques in Southeast Asia, with a recent acceleration in numbers of reported cases particularly in Malaysia. To investigate the parasite population genetics, we developed sensitive and species-specific microsatellite genotyping protocols and applied these to analysis of samples from 10 sites covering a range of >1,600 km within which most cases have occurred. Genotypic analyses of 599 P. knowlesi infections (552 in humans and 47 in wild macaques) at 10 highly polymorphic loci provide radical new insights on the emergence. Parasites from sympatric long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) and pig-tailed macaques (M. nemestrina) were very highly differentiated (FST = 0.22, and K-means clustering confirmed two host-associated subpopulations). Approximately two thirds of human P. knowlesi infections were of the long-tailed macaque type (Cluster 1), and one third were of the pig-tailed-macaque type (Cluster 2), with relative proportions varying across the different sites. Among the samples from humans, there was significant indication of genetic isolation by geographical distance overall and within Cluster 1 alone. Across the different sites, the level of multi-locus linkage disequilibrium correlated with the degree of local admixture of the two different clusters. The widespread occurrence of both types of P. knowlesi in humans enhances the potential for parasite adaptation in this zoonotic system.
Project description:Multilocus microsatellite genotyping of Plasmodium knowlesi isolates previously indicated 2 divergent parasite subpopulations in humans on the island of Borneo, each associated with a different macaque reservoir host species. Geographic divergence was also apparent, and independent sequence data have indicated particularly deep divergence between parasites from mainland Southeast Asia and Borneo. To resolve the overall population structure, multilocus microsatellite genotyping was conducted on a new sample of 182 P. knowlesi infections (obtained from 134 humans and 48 wild macaques) from diverse areas of Malaysia, first analyzed separately and then in combination with previous data. All analyses confirmed 2 divergent clusters of human cases in Malaysian Borneo, associated with long-tailed macaques and pig-tailed macaques, and a third cluster in humans and most macaques in peninsular Malaysia. High levels of pairwise divergence between each of these sympatric and allopatric subpopulations have implications for the epidemiology and control of this zoonotic species.